Commuters who sometimes have to cross the toll twice a day are livid.
Residents of societies along the Dwarka Expressway, who have been demanding that the Kherki Daula toll be removed altogether, were in for a shock recently. Instead of abolishing and removing the toll, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) on March 26 approved a proposal to increase the rates by Rs 5 in every category.
So cars now have to pay Rs 65 instead of Rs 60; light commercial vehicles Rs 95 instead of Rs 90; and heavy vehicles Rs 190 instead of Rs 185. Similarly, the monthly pass for personal car holders has been increased from Rs 685 to Rs 710, the commercial car fee has been hiked from Rs 900 to Rs 935, the light commercial vehicle fee raised from Rs 1,330 to Rs 1,375, and the heavy vehicle fee increased from Rs 2,705 to Rs 2,800.
The Millennium City Expressway Private Limited (MCEPL), the concessionaire operating the toll, will make the increased tariff operational from April 1.
Understandably, residents are livid.
Apart from them demanding the removal of the toll, the Haryana and central governments are also working towards shifting the toll to Sehrawan, about 11 km from Kherki Daula. The toll hike is badly timed, to say the least.
A large number of Dwarka Expressway residents use the Kherki Daula toll to reach sectors 81-99 and pay Rs 60 for a one-way trip. Homebuyers usually cross the toll at least twice a day, and after the toll is hiked from April 1, they will have to pay Rs 130 every day.
“We have been fighting with the government for the removal of the toll but this move by the MCEPL shows that the government is completely in the toll authorities' pockets; they are not worried about the public at all. We will take this forward in the April 8 protest planned by DXP Welfare Association,” said Pradip Rahi, a resident of Vatika Gurgaon 21, Sector 83.
MCEPL senior manager, T Raju, said, “The maintenance cost of the expressway and the toll have increased in the past year, which is why the toll tariff has been increased too.”
When asked, S Raguraman, CEO of the MCEPL, had another justification: “It is the policy of the company to increase the toll fee every year on April 1."
But residents don't plan to take this decision lying down.
“From the very first day of the announcement of this expansion project, the government has been giving us assurances that the Kherki Daula toll plaza will be removed. But nothing has materialised yet — even construction of new lanes for toll collection are in progress. And now this decision to hike tariffs. It is unfair to us residents,” said Praveen Malik, a resident of Sector 92.