Multiple users of DND will have to fork out 25% less
In a major breakthrough between the Noida Authority and Noida Toll Bridge Company Limited (NTBCL) which was mediated by the Uttar Pradesh government, NTBCL has agreed to waive off contentious clause of 20 per cent profit each year till it collects the total cost of the flyway and also Rs 3,000 crore dues on the authority. The toll company also agreed to provide free access to agricultural vehicles, ambulances and VIPs.
The toll authority announced the move after a meeting with the UP Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan, Noida officials and representatives of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) which had forced open the toll plaza for two days allowing free passage of vehicles last week. The concessionaire agreed not to collect toll tax from users which are exempted under the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) norms. Once implemented, ambulances, mortuary vehicles, VVIPs, VIPs, accredited media persons etc will ply without paying the toll.
Apart from this, NTBCL also agreed to remove the clause of 20 per cent profit which had put a huge burden on Noida authority. The clause, which was signed during the agreement, will remain in the hands of its operator for 70 years despite the original concession period which is only 30 years.
Under the existing agreement, DND flyway will be handed over to the government for a token payment of Rs 1 by the end of 30 years. However, it is still not clear how the 70-year estimate will change as it is based on current traffic projections.
According to the concession agreement signed by the UP government, NTBCL was guaranteed 20 per cent return on the project cost, which was not capped.
Additionally, the company was promised that if the annual revenues, made up of tolls and revenues from roadside advertising signs, were not sufficient to cover the assured returns, then the deficit would be added to the cost prior to computing the 20 per cent returns for the next year.
“With the earlier agreement, the toll plaza will be a part of private firm as it will never show the recovery of Rs 408 crore, the construction cost of 9.2-kilometre long carriageway,” said an official who is familiar with the agreement.
Terming it a historic decision, national spokesperson of BKU Rakesh Tikait said it will not only bring relief to the highway users but will help the government in taking back the plaza after the ending of term.
“Due to some hidden clauses, DND flyway has become a puppet in the hands of private players. Owing to the clause, the authority was in burden on more than Rs 3,000 crore which might have rose to Rs 50,000 crore in the next 15 years. With revoking of such clauses, government will take possession of plaza in the coming years,” said Tikait.