17 Jan 2019

Kerala government stops toll collection at 28 roads and bridges

The government has also asked the Centre to stop the toll collection at the Kumbalam toll plaza and Palikkara toll plaza in Ernakulam considering the burden on the people.

Drivers fed up of paying multiple tolls even while traveling short distances now have a reason to cheer. The Left Democratic Front government of Kerala has stopped toll collection at 28 toll booths across the state.

“There is no need for toll for any bridge or road. The Pinarayi government has stopped toll collection at 28 bridges and roads. Now there are 10 left. The Roads and Bridges Corporation has been collecting tolls to repay the loans taken for the construction. The government's wants to pay the money to the corporation and hence to do away with the tolls," Public Works Minister G Sudhakaran recently said at a public event.

As per the Kerala Tolls Act, the state Public Works Department collects tolls for bridges for which the construction cost is above Rs 10 crore. At present, there are 14 such toll booths in the state.

The government's policy of toll-less roads and bridges has been repeated by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Minister G Sudhakaran. As a part of this policy, in November 2016, the government stopped toll collection of Irumbanam-Thirpunuthura SN Junction, Ponnuruthy and Athani overbridges, Ernakulam Airport-Seaport road, Eroor overbridge and Thathappallykatupuzha bridge,” according to the Public Works Department.

Apart from this, the government has also stopped toll collection at Akkulam, Kundannur and Varappuzha bridges on the National Highway (the construction cost of which is under Rs 100 crore).

Of the 14 bridges built spending more than Rs 208 crores under PWD, the amount collected from tolls between 2002 and 2016 was just Rs 5.5 crore. That amount was only 2.5 percent of the total construction cost. Both the realisation that toll collection wouldn’t meet the objective, as well as the government toll-free policy, spurred the PWD recommended to end toll collection of all bridges under its authority. The recommendation was approved by the chief minister and the Finance Department before it was sent to the Cabinet.

“It has been a historical decision to end toll collection of 24 bridges, the construction cost of which together would be more than Rs 1,000 core,” the PWD statement says.

Toll collection has also been stopped at 14 bridges: Aroor-Aroorkutty, Pulikkakadavu. Poovathumkadavu, New Cochin (Cheruthuruthy), Thuruthippuram Kottappuram, Krishnankotta, Kadalundikkadavu, Murinjapuzha, Mayannur, Sreemoola Nagaram, Vellapp, Mattul Madakara, Nedumkallu and Mannurkkadavu.

The government has also asked the Centre to stop the toll collection at the Kumbalam toll plaza and Palikkara toll plaza in Ernakulam as a “a reflection of the government's policy of not to impose burden on the common man," the statement says.

The toll collection now exists for bridges and roads under the National Highway Authority that have been built spending more than Rs 100 crore as well as those under PWD that were built on loans from various financial institutions.

The state government implemented Kerala Tolls Act in 1976 to mobilise funds to repay the amount borrowed from various agencies for the construction of roads and bridges.