Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tolls, Octroi and Speed-Breakers

Before even completing the globalization process, India has marched well ahead as far as collecting the toll is concerned. India may be collecting more toll than developed countries. The several toll booths & the speed-breakers before and after them are really painful & pinching for the vehicles, drivers & vehicle owners. All the people paying the toll, collecting the toll & those who are not concerned with it, will have to pay a heavy price for the severe pollution due to wastage of fuel in & around the toll booths & octroi posts. In figures the cost of fuel wasted & the pollution caused due to toll booths, octroi posts & speed-breakers could be much more than the money collected there.

Suppose I stay in Thane. If I have to go to Airoli which is about 5 km., I have to pay Rs. 50/- as toll one way. This amounts to Rs. 10/- per km. If I go to Pune I end up paying Rs. 168/- as toll one way & spend at least 15 minutes on the four toll booths. This amounts to more than one Rupee per km. If I go to office from Thane to Chembur, I spend Rs 1000/- for monthly Toll pass which is valid for one car only. It cannot be used in the car pool. This means I spend Rs. 12,000/- every year on Toll. This is about 3 percent of an average man's salary. I don’t think there is so much toll anywhere else in the world.

How much toll has been collected so far, how it was utilized & how much toll is to be collected in the coming years, all this should be made open to the public by the Government. The toll collection today is totally one sided, unjust & biased. Without giving any reasons the toll was increased from Rupees 15 to 20 & then to 25. In spite of the number of days in the month or on which date you buy the pass, the price is fixed to Rs. 1000/-. If you have two cars, you are more rich. Buy two passes. One pass will be valid for one car. The Government has deliberately passed on the responsibility of collecting toll to a private company. The toll collecting gangs are comfortably robbing the people. Whether the annual receipt of the toll to the Government is more or less, right or wrong is not known to the public. Since the Government is paying a silent observer role, it is injustice for everyone.

In reality all the Governments should be wealthy because of the revenues. But we find all the Governments begging for money. Due to this begging tendency the Government has to build bridges on BOT conditions. Once this is done the Government has to dance on the tune of the contractor & victimize the public in the process. Instead of this the Government should have ample money to build bridges & roads. It is fine if the Government wants to do it with public money. Just increase the petrol & Diesel prices by 1 Rupee per litre for these jobs. With this extra Rupee the Government will be able to build bridges & roads all over the country within a short time. This extra Rupee will avoid the traffic jams & delays near the toll & octroi posts. The savings in the fuel due to this will hike the foreign reserves & because of the reduction in pollution, we will be able to breathe some fresh air .The leading industries in India are today getting ISO certifications to claim that they are not causing harm to the environment. .But as a country we are causing serious damage to the environment by wasting fuel at the toll and Octroi posts and on speed breakers.

The extra Rupee will be able to abolish the toll & octroi completely & there will be no injustice on anyone. Anyone using 200 litres fuel monthly will spend 200 Rupees extra & the one using 50 litres of fuel monthly will spend 50 Rupees extra. But by paying the toll & octroi, today we are directly or indirectly spending more money than the proposed extra Rupee. Secondly all the money collected as toll & octroi is not spent on public works. Lot of money is spent in maintaining the systems collecting toll & octroi. The extra Rupee proposed on petrol & Diesel will on the other hand go directly to the Government without any extra cost through the existing network only. We are in the computer age. The extra Rupee so collected can be disbursed to the existing toll & octroi posts in the same proportion all over the country. The Government can get rid of the debts of all the contractors. In future there won’t be any BOT projects required. The Government can take up all such projects with its own finance. The public will be proud of such self dependent Government.

Today thousands of people are paying toll & octroi by standing or sitting in long queues, finding their way through traffic jams on bad roads. This exhibit of shameless tolerance can be seen day & night throughout the country. I don’t think it can happen anywhere else in the world. I am also one of the shameless characters in the tolerance exhibit. Anybody can think why am I so arrogant to write all this. Instead of that I should stop the extravagancy of using the car every day & stay away from toll & octroi. But for convenience, comfort &for saving time I want to use the car.

It will be now sixty years since independence. But it is decided that Thane is out of Mumbai limits. Its like another state. Once it is decided like that, it is easy to rob the people both ways in the form of toll & octroi. BEST can operate in New Bombay but not in Thane. If there is BEST service from Thane lot of people like me will stop using their car everyday. Using car is no more a status symbol, it is becoming a necessity. The number of vehicles is going to multiply in the future. Unless these traffic jamming and polluting octroi & toll booths are irradicated the vehicle movement will not be possible then.

Once we get rid of the octroi & toll posts, there will be tremendous saving in the fuel, which will increase the foreign reserves. In a longer run we as a country will be able to reduce the fuel prices by avoiding the wastage of fuel in traffic jams.

There may be some objections in getting rid of the speed breakers. But we must find solutions to these problems & get rid of the speed breakers. Whenever any vehicle has to be stopped either for a pedestrian carelessly crossing the road or for a speed breaker, fuel is wasted & pollution increases. This is well known & need not be told again. But when a person stops for the vehicle to pass, nothing is wasted. This needs to be told to people at all levels. Instead of building speed breakers every corner, there should be a speed limit at such places. People on the roads should follow their rules & vehicle owners should follow their rules. Anyone breaking the traffic rules & the drivers driving irresponsibly causing traffic jams should be punished strictly. If the police could achieve this we will be proud of such police & such Government.

These are the feelings of a middle class civilian. Experts in the field may refine the procedure and advise accordingly.


NK said...

Hello Readers!
Please post a comment on what you think about this issue. Please vote atleast... and let me know that you are not indifferent
Vive L'Inde!

Aditi said...

Completely, fully & 100% agreeable with you! I am related to this blogger and we have practically grown up together, so most of our ideologies and thoughts are pretty similar as we have heard the same sort of preachings as whatever she has written is exactly how I feel!
She has systematically structured her thoughts and put it in a blog, trying to reach out to as many victims as possible...I instead start my cursing every morning and evening passing these toll booths and octroi posts.
The Octroi posts get most of the thrashing...I had read about a survey where an Average Man spends about 3 weeks time of his life waiting at signals, with us Indians, I believe it would be atleast 3 years, thanks to the different variety of strikes our Govt Employees, especially these Octroi people can come up with. Just a month ago I took more than 3 hours to reach from Thane to Mahape (which is only about 18Km)due to one such MIND BLOWING (we want more money)protest from the Octroi dept. When I actually thought about the amount of resources wasted (as rightly put by Neha, the time and fuel cost), I was ashamed of myself and our pathetically managed town/city/state. (I wonder why we call ourselves a poor country, when we can easily afford to lose 10-15 Crores within 3 hours)
I believe the basic principal to have toll booths is to recover money spent on building roads and maintaining them....and we all know the GREAT SAGA OF MUMBAI ROADS....winding it in one line, Thane - Belapur Road will be the world's best case study of not only the road condition, but project management of building new roads :)
Anyway Nehatai, I m really glad that you chose this topic, finally some place to voice the opinion, as you can see through my long commenting, its been piled up for a while now ;)

Satish said...

The toll is really unjust.The toll,the octroi and the speed breakers are causing serious damage to the environment.They need to be abolished.The money collection by the agencies should be transperent and the money collected from the public must be utilised for the just cause.

cheezewhizzkid said...

While i understand the post and appreciate the concerns behind it. I don't the solutions are all that simple.

We need to understand that while demanding roads of international standards the toll we pay in comparison is quite reasonable.

most tolls in the US range between - 50C ( approx 25 rupees ) and 10$ ( 500 rupees ) ... one way.

The solution to the problem may not necessarily be in cutting the costs but rather spending the earning efficiently.

So we should be looking at the quality of service rather than the cost. i.e we need to move on and realise that with progress both economic and social .... everyday costs for amenities like good roads are going to go up.

However ... our roads arent all that good and that we should be demanding. The toll boths are outdated technology and horribly maintained / equipped to handle large volumes of traffic.

I agree public transportation should be far more accesible and better maintained.

On the whole ... i think the remedy to the situation lies in ensuring a good return for the tolls rather than looking at a reduction in tolls.

Nilesh Gurnani said...

The concern raised over the issue is pretty justified as fas as "only the problem" is concerned..

If you just take a thought or two and look at the whole scenario from a Macro-Prespective, things going are perfectly in order...

I believe, we would save much more fuel than ever, if all the roads in this country were converted from "continous crests and troughs" to something worth calling roads.! In case of road like Pune-Mumbai Expressway, I am more than happy to 150/- as Toll, since I now reach within less than 3 hours, and extract a better mileage from my car, saves a lot of wear and tear in the car, which would have otherwise resulting in early maintainance.. Even if it Re.1 / Km, I am paying this extraload only if I driving though that road...Price Hike in diesel / petrol of the similar amount would lead to collecting the same money "indiscrimately" from people who perhaps never even drive on the same roads all their lives...Hence charging the amount on a generic basis would be incorrect, rather you pay as you use, because inadvertendly you end up saving the same amount.!!

If the Govt were to built the roads and maintain, we all know what kind of quality of roads we have had from the past 60years..! Hence in a BOT system , the Govt has pushed its responsibility on a private player who is accountable to perform under the contract...And it has proven to be successful, since most Toll-Paying Roads are maintained wonderfully, and save a lot of fuel while you drive on constant speeds, less potholes, "black" holes..

Further, Govt machinery is highly incapable of maintaining such roads and even lacks any kind of Technological prowess to bring latest trends in Road construction or Maintanance..Hence private players do a great job on a BOT basis....Though the fruits might not be seen from Day 1, in the longer run, when the Tolls will be fulffiled and no longer in place, we shall enjoy the benefits of the infrastructure being laid down today....The evidence is right in front of us, as we can see the difference in the roads which we being "so call maintained" by the PWD and now by the BOT operators..

Yes, we might be polluting the areas where Toll Plazas are operating....But we sure need to find other ways / means to recover the Toll...For Eg. The Govt has already initiated a system of Electronic License Plates regime..It might take some time for it to be implemented...All it could do, is scan the License Plate and debit the same to the Bank A/c....Maybe this is far too stretched for India, but there are no doubts, we will be seeing it soon..Till then, the pollution is being offset, by good roads, and hence lower pollution and better milage.

Octroi is altogether another issue, whereby I am fully in agreement with the author...

Yes, Octroi should be abolished for many a reasons...Pollution in those areas is just another reason..Its very operating fundamental is questionable..

But alas.!!! I doubt how many of you even know how octroi operates..!! For eg, Nashik City generates around Rs. 300Cr. / year as Octroi!!!
I dont see that kind of money in the way of city's development anyways...Hardly 10% is seen as City's development...That just tells how much money has been generated from so many years and how it has siphoned out of the system.!! Hence we are only paying the Octroi to keep reiumburse the Politicians Election Budgets.!!!

====>Concluding, I feel, BOT is the way to go,

===>BUT THE GOVT must ensure than Toll Collection is as per decided tariff and MUST END WHEN THE TENURE IS OVER.

===>The information be made public to avoid Private Players involve "making hay while the sun shines".

===>Octroi needs to get out of this country, as it is only good enough to keep the Ruling Municipal Political Parties' Tresuries happy....

meenu said...

I agree with you Neha. When i take a train from chembur to vashi (3 stations) , the ticket is rs.8... and from chembur to VT (CST) (8 stations)..... it is rs.8!!!

The Vashi bridge was built ions ago...and they r still collecting the toll. according to me...the state must have collected the toll plus the maintenance charge but this is outrageous.

WE as common citizens, i fell, dont bother to find out where the money goes but we can sort of complain.

I know it isnt easy task to question the govt. but maybe we should!!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with u.
This is one aspect where common man is taken for granted.
In India, specially in Maharashtra common man's pocket is always being targeted. And nobody bothers to give details about the utilization of these funds.
I appreciate your courage to place this problem of public interest.
For anything I am very much with u.
Let us join hands do something abt it.

Seema Pitale.

Anonymous said...

The tolls are a pain. They always have been. Consider the option of Car-pooling. It will save a lot of money, and reduce the number of cars on the road... Instead of 10 cars on the road, the same work can be done by a single Van... reducing the costs drastically... 500 vs 50.... Save energy, money as well as better utilize your time rather than driving every day..

Tolls are painful, for a reason...

Pranav said...

I am glad to tell you that my company, Mastek has been appointed as a consultant for giving a feasible solution to Maharashtra Government for Mumbai Traffic Congestion System. The company has successfully implemented the similar system in London city and the system is able to generate 10% more revenues from it. The system has helped the city to avoid traffic congestion by installing CCTV, Vehicle No. plate scanner, Pre-paid taxes to the vehicle owners.

To my knowledge, Mumbai is facing several problems.Some of them I'd note down here:

a. Poor Infrastructure and Maintenance

b. Lack of Transparency in Revenue expenditure

c. Atmospheric Instability (This has greatly affected our roads since last four years including horrifying incident of 26 July)

d. Higher standard of Living (City is absorbing several thousands of Vehicles Registration daily)

Controlling over the mentioned facts, I believe there's need to have aggressive policies.

I am going to keep a track to this blog as it is going to aid us in building a better solution. Please keep me updated.

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