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It is observed that in our country more than 30 categories of the dignitaries are exempted from payment of toll fees which include the following:
President of India, Vice President of India, Prime Minister of India, Governors of States, Chief Ministers of States, MPs/MLAs/MLCs, Judges and Chief Justices of High Court/Supreme court, Secretaries to the Governments at various levels, Executive Magistrates and over 18 other categories.
It is pertinent to note that all the above categories of dignitaries draw very handsome salaries and attractive perks from the government. They also enjoy official vehicles, and all the official expenses are reimbursed by the government. Then why exempt them from payment of toll fees when they use these roads?
The FAQ in the NHAI site mentions that the exemptions are given as a “welfare measure”. It is preposterous to bring the above categories of dignitaries under welfare measure.
While it is understandable to permit emergency services like Ambulances, Funeral services, Fire brigades, Movement of troops, specially designed vehicles driven by physically challenged persons etc., the exemptions given to various other categories is not warranted considering that the common citizen is being charged toll fee under “Use and Pay” rationale which should be applicable to the above categories also.
If the earlier exemption was based on the delay at the toll booths for the entourage of the dignitaries to pass through, the FAST TAG mechanism introduced in the last couple of years, has made the travel at the toll booths seamless and hassle free. But despite the introduction of FAST TAG in recent times, the above category of dignitaries continue to enjoy exemption through :Exempted FAST TAGS” ( SOP Dt.08.01.2019 issued by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways) which is unjustified.
Ironically, medal winners at International sports events like Asian games, CWG, Olympics, World sports events etc., who bring laurels and glory to the nation are required to pay fees at the toll booth. The likes of Neeraj Chopra, Pragnanand, Nikhat Zareen must pay the toll fees whereas the lawmakers zip past in a jiffy without paying the toll fee. This is ridiculous and defies logic.
The fee collection guidelines are still based on NH Fee Rules 1997. Isn’t it time to revisit these outdated fee rules and modify them to meet the current expectations?
These pieces are being published as they have been received – they have not been edited/fact-checked by ThePrint.