A truck passes through the Adityapur Toll Bridge on Tuesday. Picture by Animesh Sengupta
Jamshedpur, June 10: The state government is yet to cough up a single penny towards losses incurred for waiving toll tax for two-wheelers on the Adityapur Toll Bridge, prompting the company maintaining the Rs 74-crore link built on PPP mode to send a fresh reminder.
Cash-strapped Adityapur Toll Bridge Company Limited (ATBCL), which has been bearing the losses caused by the waiver on its own despite an assurance from the previous Arjun Munda-led government that it would pay for the deficit, said that it would no longer be able to meet the expenses of maintaining the bridge or carry out post-monsoon repairs if the state did not clear dues worth Rs 2 crore.
ATBCL managing director Sudhanshu Kumar, who sent yet another memorandum to the industry department on Tuesday, said that the state had been sitting on the bills for the past 18 months.
“Collection of Rs 5 as toll from two-wheelers was the major source of income for ATBCL. But in October 2012, two-wheelers were exempted from coughing the levy following a directive from the Arjun Munda-led coalition government. Though the outstanding due has come to over Rs 2 crore now, the state government has not paid a single penny as it had previously promised,” Kumar added.
The MD pointed out that there was a consensus agreement between ATBCL and the state government that if any mode of transport was exempted from paying toll tax, the loss thus incurred would be met by the former.
The company has kept its part of the deal and does not collect any charge from two-wheelers using the link. But the state failed to keep its word, Kumar said.
“In April this year, a high-level team of officials led by then chief secretary R.S. Sharma had reviewed the present status of ATBCL. After taking stock of everything, including our financial condition and the provisions of the concession agreement, the former chief secretary promised that the government would soon clear the outstanding dues and also pave the way for implementing revised toll taxes.
“But thereafter no one from the government got in touch with us although two months have passed since the meeting took place here,” Kumar added.
Last year, ATBCL had carried out post-monsoon repairs of the bridge in October. However, as only patchwork was done, potholes and patches have already started appearing on the sleek surface of the bridge even before the arrival of the monsoon this year.
But the MD made it clear that they would not be able to carry out even the patchwork job this time in the absence of enough funds.
“We are passing through hard times financially as enough number of commercial vehicles are not plying on the toll bridge. The bridge is bound to suffer more cracks and potholes during monsoon, but we will not be able to carry out repairs,” Kumar said.
When contacted, director of state industry department Himani Pande said the department was yet to get any letter from ATBCL.
There is, however, a ray of hope for the company, as Pande also said that they had readied the file for reimbursing ATBCL’s dues. “We have already put forward the file for clearing the dues. It will be sent to the road construction department for getting its consent after which the matter will be resolved,” Pande told The Telegraph.
The toll bridge, which links Adityapur industrial area with the Marine Drive in Jamshedpur’s Kadma, became operational in July 2011.
With the distance between areas like Kadma, Sonari and Sakchi and Adityapur automatically becoming less, around 7,000 bikers started using the bridge every day. They had to pay a toll tax of Rs 5, which generated a substantial income of Rs 35,000 per day.
At present, the toll tax charged from three-wheelers, four-wheelers, trucks and multi-axle vehicles varies from Rs 10 to Rs 50, but due to the yet-to-be-readied Marine Drive project, the number of heavy vehicles passing through the bridge is considerably low.