NEW DELHI: Tolling across entire National Highway network will stop with immediate effect to avoid spread of Coronavirus till April 14 midnight. However, the toll operators will have to ensure maintenance of ambulance and crane services till the end of lockdown.
On Wednesday morning, NHAI had sent a letter to road transport and highways ministry seeking direction on whether tolling operation should be continued or suspended till further orders.
NHAI had received numerous representations from toll operating agencies expressing their inability in continuing toll operation due to fear of the pandemic, financial viability due to drastic fall in revenue and new agencies being unable to sign the contract agreement and start tolling.
The highway ministry later in the day responded to NHAI citing the home ministry order of March 23 (Tuesday), which specified that all commercial and private establishments shall be closed down for 21 days for containment of COVID-19.
It said the prevailing condition may be “treated as force majeure of the concession/ contract agreement” as per the finance ministry’s rule of February 19, 2020.
Sources said the stopping of toll collection will have some repercussion on NHAI’s financial liability as the toll operators would seek compensation for the toll loss for this period.
“There will be some impact. But now the focus is to check the spread of disease. Our toll gate attendants are taking cash from people and that’s simply dangerous. Secondly, the toll collection has reduced to nearly 20%,” said a senior executive of a most crowded toll plaza.