Madhya Pradesh has come under scrutiny for its toll tax rates and poorly maintained highways. The toll tax for a car driver travelling from Ratlam to Indore, covering a distance of 130 km, is Rs 280, which is more than Rs 2 per kilometre. This cost includes a fee of Rs 160 for travelling on the Ahmedabad-Indore highway, which spans 24 km and leads to Indore.
The state government had signed a 25-year contract with three companies, Essel Infra, Ashok Buildcon, and Guj Info Petro Limited (GIPL), under the build, operate, and transfer (BOT) scheme between 2007 and 2009 to maintain and rebuild three state highways that are vital to the Malwa-Nimar region. These highways connect Ratlam, Mandsaur, Neemuch, Dhar, Dewas, Indore, and Bhopal.
High Toll Tax on Highways
According to the report of News Click, after the companies finished the road works, they set up toll stations on the highways to recover their expenses. However, toll tax rates have become a major problem for travellers and politicians, with many complaining about high toll taxes and poor roads.
The toll tax for the journey from Ratlam to Indore is Rs 280, and for the three toll plazas on the Jaora-Nayagaon State Highway, it is Rs 134 per car. For the Dewas-Bhopal Expressway, the toll tax is Rs 147, which is more than Rs 2 per kilometre.
According to the Madhya Pradesh Road Development Corporation (MPRDC), the companies spent more than Rs 1,440 crore on the construction of these roads, after taking out loans from banks and receiving a government grant of Rs 81 crore.
However, as of January 31, 2023, they had collected a toll tax worth Rs 4,829 crore, which is three to four times the amount they spent. The companies will continue to collect the toll tax for the next ten years.
Concerns over toll taxes and Road Conditions
Apart from these three roads, the Madhya Pradesh government also handed over 58 roads reconstructed under the BOT scheme, known as BOT roads. Of these 58, nine BOT road contracts have been cancelled and one remains incomplete.
The remaining 48 BOT roads, reconstructed at a cost of Rs 6,939 crore, have collected toll taxes of Rs 8,419 crore as of January 31, 2023, according to the MPRDC. The state government’s share of the profits was Rs 500.27 crore.
The toll tax rates on state highways in Madhya Pradesh have raised concerns about private companies that have won the tenders for the reconstruction and maintenance of the roads. Allegedly, many of these companies do not comply with the terms and conditions of their contracts, leading to poor roads and high toll taxes.
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