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Demand for probe into road expansion project

M.K. Ananth

To convert Chennai-Bangalore highway from four to six lane


A letter regarding the matter has been sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Plea for probe to go into details of the contract and the role of the officials concerned


Namakkal: President of the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) G.R. Shanmugappa has urged the Union government to conduct a CBI probe into the allotment of tender to two private companies to expand the four-lane Chennai to Bangalore national highway into six-lanes.

He told The Hindu that a letter in this regard has been sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday through the Road Transport and Highways Department.

He said that they suspect “something fishy” over the allotment of tenders to those companies, which according to him was highly beneficial only for those companies and against the goodwill of road users of that stretch.

The probe should dwell in detail on the intricacies of the contract and officials concerned, when it was signed in 2008 during the tenure of T.R. Balu as then Minister for Road Transport and Highways, the AIMTC President said.

“The contract for Rs. 2,250 crore for laying the stretch of about 335 kilometres – Rs. 750 crore for Athipalli to Krishnagiri and Rs. 1,550 for Krishnagiri to Sriperumbudur,” he said and added that “those companies would end up collecting a minimum toll of nearly Rs. 30,000 crore when the 26-year contract ends.”

He noted that the daily toll collection in that stretch was around Rs. 1.4 crore that makes the average annual collection of as much as Rs. 550 crore.

The companies can easily make up the investment in less than five years, but the contract also gives them the liberty to increase the toll by 10 percent annually, which adds to the burden of road users, he lamented.

While toll charges should be reduced with the increasing vehicle population the charges on that road increases despite an annual 22 percent vehicle increase, Mr. Shanmugappa added.

As the toll collection on that stretch has been increased since June 7, trucks have to pay Rs. 3,148 to make use of the complete stretch against Rs. 1,490 paid before that date, the president said.

“The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has invited us for a final round of talks to talk on this toll issue at Delhi on June 27,” he said.

The AIMTC, that includes all types of light and heavy weight vehicles, will indefinitely boycott the Chennai to Bangalore national highway if the toll was not reduced on that day, he warned.

He also suggested that the Tamil Nadu Government should take the contract for expansion of the six-lane highway and collect reasonable toll from the users.

This would add to the revenue, he suggested and added that a letter on this subject has also been sent to Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa.

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