Commuters using the picturesque Ranchi-Hazaribagh road, now a four-laned thoroughfare under National Highway 33, are paying toll tax from Wednesday after midnight at a plaza installed in Pundag, 20km from the capital.
National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) have authorised one M/s BK Vyas, a private agency, to collect the toll tax. The pocket pinch starts from Rs 55 to Rs 360 for a single journey, depending on the size of the vehicles.
There is also a pocket-friendly monthly slab for all categories of vehicles (see box).
NHAI officials told The Telegraph that special lower rates would be applicable for vehicles registered under Ranchi district, where the toll plaza is situated. It means a Ranchi car owner will pay Rs 30 for a single journey instead of the normal Rs 55.
Also, residents who live within a 20km periphery of the Pundag toll plaza ó and use the stretch regularly ó can pay a monthly tax slab of Rs 215 for the financial year 2013-14 for their own non-commercial vehicles.
NHAI officials added that two and three-wheelers, tractors and other vehicles used for agriculture purposes would be exempted from toll taxes.
ďThe toll collection process started from right after midnight, September 4. So far, the process is smooth,Ē NHAI project manager Awadhesh Kumar told The Telegraph.
In the day, NHAI officials, including Ranchi-based chief general manager Ravindra Kumar, project manager Kumar and manager (technical) M.K. Pandey visited the toll collection plaza.
NHAI sources said the rates might rise in the near future when a bypass measuring 15.473 km on Ramgarh gets ready in a couple of months.
The four-laning of the 73.5km stretch of Hazaribagh-Ranchi falling under NH-33 was carried out under phase III of the National Highways Development Programme on a BOT-annuity basis. It started in 2011.
Hazaribagh-Ranchi Expressway Limited, a special purpose vehicle formed by construction major IL&FS and Punj Lloyd, was the concessionaire for the project that cost Rs 625 crore.
Are the toll rates for the four-lane justified?