Soon, toll policy for state highways
Kolkata: The Bengal government has decided to prepare a toll policy for the state highways.
The green signal in this connection has come during the Cabinet meeting held at Nabanna on Tuesday.
This is the first time since Independence that the Bengal government has decided to prepare a toll policy and it has been done to ensure proper maintenance of the roads.
Partha Chatterjee, the state Parliamentary Affairs minister, said: "A decision has been taken in today's (Tuesday) Cabinet meeting to prepare a toll policy. The state Public Works Department (PWD) has been directed to decide the tax policy on the basis of roads."
According to sources in the state Secretariat, the West Bengal Highway Development Corporation (WBHDC) will initiate the process of collecting toll tax as soon as the policy is prepared and the tax slab for each of the roads get finalised following necessary assessments to be carried out by the concerned officials and engineers of the state PWD. Necessary infrastructure that is required for collection of toll tax will also be constructed.
Bengal has around 4,000 km of state highways but toll is levied only on national highways and some state-run bridges.
As per the preliminary estimation of the PWD officials, it would be possible to collect toll tax on 15 state highways.
The Bongaon-Kalyani state highway is of 151 km, Krishnagar-Gosaba highway is of 266 km, Jhalda-Digha highway is 466 km and the smallest of all the state highways is the Dubrajpur-Debogram highway which is only 14 km long.
Sources added that a high-level meeting in this connection is going to be held at Nabanna soon and it is also learnt that some senior officials of the WBHDC will be present in the meeting to discuss issues related to the toll policy with officials of the state PWD.
It may be mentioned that the road connectivity has received a facelift in Bengal in the past six years with the state government giving major emphasis on construction of roads and its maintenance. The state government needs to carry out yearly maintenance of the state highways that often get damaged as large number of heavy trucks keep plying on the roads.
The maintenance of the roads costs crores of rupees to the state's exchequer. So according to an official, the toll policy was quite essential as it will help in further improvement in road connectivity.