Rules prohibit two toll booths within 60km, claims petition. NHAI to reply by May 30
The Hush Post, Chandigarh: The National Highways Authority of India’s new venture to establish two toll plazas on Zirakpur-Patiala highway has come under the Punjab and Haryana High Court scanner.
NHAI’s recent decision on making two toll plazas on the newly four-laned Zirakpur-Patiala highway is facing the heat when a High Court lawyer challenged the decision. His argument is that it violates the NHAI rules of having a minimum distance of 60 km between two tolls.
The 50-km highway has two toll booths; the first between Zirakpur and Rajpura, and another on the Rajpura-Patiala road — charging ₹30 and ₹35, respectively. The highway connects Chandigarh to the Malwa belt in Punjab, including Sangrur, Mansa, Bathinda and Fazilka districts, besides a few areas of Haryana.
With an expenditure of nearly ₹600 crore, the project is being executed by the subsidiary of a Russian construction company. The tolls are to be made functional later this month.
Cause of trouble: Two plazas only 35 km apart
Rajbir Singh, a Mohali resident, has argued that toll plazas contravene the provisions of 2008 NHAI rules on two grounds. The first being that no toll plaza can be established within 10 km of a municipal or local town limit and another being no other toll plaza can be established on the same stretch and in the same direction within a distance of 60 km.
The court was informed these two plazas are being constructed within MC limits of Patiala and Zirakpur and that the distance between the two is less than 35 km. One is being established at Azizpur near Zirakpur and another is near Dhareri Jattan village in Patiala. The court was also told the project is not complete as one major flyover is still under construction.
“It is settled law that the department will not start receiving the toll collection until the road is complete,” said the petitioner to court seeking restraint order and removal of one of the tolls.
The complete road length between Zirakpur and Bathinda is 216 km and only three to four toll plazas can be established on it, as it was told to the court. Instead, the department decided to establish five toll plazas.
According to the petitioner, there is one toll plaza on the National Highway 1 between Ambala and Jalandhar near Rajpura.
“If these two start functioning, Rajpura town will be surrounded by three toll plazas and general public will face hardship. They will pay toll for going to all three major cities nearby — Patiala, Ambala and Zirakpur,” the petition claims. NHAI is supposed to respond by May 30, as per the court.