Make DND toll-free, rules Allahabad HC
The High Court pronounced its order on a PIL filed by the Federation of Noida Residents Welfare Association (FoNRWA) in November 2012, seeking the scrapping of the DND toll.
Several protests and demonstrations were organised seeking the scrapping of Rs 28 toll, following allegations that the operator of the 9.2-km long stretch (including the Mayur Vihar link) had already made significant profits.
It is a “Diwali Gift” for millions of road users as the court has directed a free-ride after a four-year long battle. The concessionaire Noida Toll Bridge Company Ltd (NTBCL), even after earning revenues in excess of Rs 1,400 crore or three to four times of the actual cost of its construction, was adamant to collect toll from the users. Their connivance with a few government officials was coming in the way to a free-ride for the road users.
“Now, the court has accepted the argument of minting of money by the toll operator and its connivance with the officials and has asked to provide relief to the commuters,” said NP Singh, president of FoNRWA. He claimed that soon after the decision, the flyway has been forced open for free vehicular movement and a vigil is being kept on activities of the staff deployed at the toll plaza by the company. Meanwhile, NTBLC officials were not available for comments.
The HC bench comprising justice Arun Tandon and justice Sunita Agarwal passed the order on a public interest litigation (PIL) in which it was contended that through toll collection, the company had already earned many times more than the total project cost but it was still realising toll from the public.
The counsel for NTBCL said the company’s contract with the Noida authority was binding and collection of toll was less than the estimates of the contract. “Hence, the liability of Noida authority had only increased in last few years as per the contract,” the counsel said.
“In case of breach of contract, Noida authority will be liable to pay huge compensation to NTBCL. Further, NTBCL is given authority to collect toll for a period of 30 years, hence it must be allowed to collect toll for the said period to avoid compensatory clause of the contract,” the counsel said.
After going through arguments, the court said NTBCL had already realised the construction cost of the flyover, therefore, there was no need to continue with the realisation of toll fee. The court said the amended agreement between NTBCL and Noida Authority permitting the company to collect the toll till April 1, 2031 under concession agreement was arbitrary, violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India, unfair and unjust.