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Cess to clear the traffic mess
- Car-parking rates at airport hiked, funds will maintain VIP Road

The state government has decided to impose a cess on vehicles parked inside the airport area to raise funds for projects to improve movement of vehicular traffic along VIP Road.

The decision was taken on Wednesday at a high-level meeting held by chief secretary S.N. Roy with senior officials from transport, PWD, CMDA and ICICI-Winfra. The proposal will now be sent to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee for his approval.

Come December, when the cess becomes effective, passengers and visitors to the airport will have to pay an additional amount for parking their cars in the airport lot.

The amount of the cess has been proposed at Rs 25 for medium vehicles and Rs 50 for jeeps, vans and other vehicles. This will be in addition to the existing parking fees charged by the airport authorities. Earlier this year, the cash-strapped government had imposed a cess on petrol and diesel.

Officials at Writers’ Buildings argued that a large number of vehicles ply on VIP Road, en route to the airport and back. “Airport-bound vehicle-owners should be game to cough up a little extra for smooth, unhindered flow of vehicles,’’ they said.

A comprehensive development project was finalised at the Wednesday meeting for smoother flow of vehicular traffic along the important artery. The project includes three pedestrian underpasses at Baguiati, Keshtopur and Jorabagan.

A small pedestrian flyover will also be built at Keshtopur over the canal to link Salt Lake with VIP Road. The project cost is estimated at Rs 25 crore.

“ICICI-Winfra, a joint-venture company between ICICI and West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation, has been assigned to implement the project, under the supervision of PWD and the transport department, and will foot a major share of the bill. The funds to be collected from the cess on vehicles will also be used for maintenance of VIP Road and other projects. We expect to start work on the project within a month,’’ said D.K. Dutta, chief engineer of PWD.

“We are not imposing cess on vehicles parked inside Sealdah or Howrah stations. This additional levy is in the airport and justified, since passengers flying in and out of the city, who spend several thousands on airfare, won’t mind paying an additional sum of Rs 25,’’ Dutta added.

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