MOney matters: The Adityapur Toll Bridge on Friday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Jamshedpur, Dec. 7: Adityapur Toll Bridge Company Limited (ATBCL) on Friday sent its second bill to the state industry department, seeking reimbursement to offset loss following chief minister Arjun Munda’s populist decision to make two-wheelers toll-free.
The Rs 10.5 lakh bill for 30 days of November adds to the unpaid one sent for a week of the month before (October 24-31) for Rs 4 lakh.
The grand total so far is Rs 14.5 lakh.
ATBCL managing director Sudhanshu Kumar told The Telegraph that sending the bill was a “routine affair” now to seek reimbursement for the losses incurred.
“From November, we are sending bills according to a concession agreement between the state industry department and our company. But the state has not taken our bills seriously. We have sent more than one reminder since the first one,” said Kumar.
Kumar may have to practise writing more reminders. Industry secretary A.P. Singh has taken the whole issue with a pinch of salt, as was evident when he was contacted.
“Let the ATBCL send bills every month. But we will first go through the agreement between the two sides. Only after this, we will decide whether to pay the bill or not,” he said.
There were two implicit admissions in his statement.
One, the state industry department is determined to pull rank.
Two, ATBCL would not get reimbursed anytime soon, agreement or not.
The industry secretary, when asked about the delay in paying ATBCL, said with a jab at wit: “Clearing ATBCL’s dues is not the sole issue for my department. Waise bhi, hamara department koi baniye ki dukaan nahin hai ki bill bhej diye aur payment taiyyar ho gayi (My department isn’t a shop where you get paid as soon as you send a bill).”
He also said it might take time to reach “an amicable conclusion” in the matter of the pending bills.
But bleeding losses, the toll-bridge company can ill afford time.
“Unless we collect an adequate amount of revenue every month from the toll bridge, we can’t maintain it. If not, the surface will develop cracks,” said ATBCL managing director Kumar.
According to sources, over one lakh two-wheelers used the toll bridge between November 1 and November 30.
“We calculate the reimbursement bills based on two-wheeler data from a sensor installed at the centre of the toll bridge. This can’t be tampered with so there is no doubt about the veracity of bills,” Kumar added.
Chief minister Arjun Munda, on a visit to the steel city on October 17, 2012, had announced exemption of toll tax for two-wheelers. It was implemented from October 24.
The government, ever willing to earn applause, is unwilling to pick up the tab.