The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) recently awarded Mr. Prashant Burge for exposing overcharging by a Toll Plaza operator in Belgaum, Karnataka. The toll plaza operator was charging five rupees in excess of the approved rate.
Prashant Burge used RTI to expose this and NHAI immediately stopped the collection of excess fee. Also, the excess collection of Rs. 1.8 crore was recovered from the Toll Agency and as a corrective measure; notice boards came up on all toll booths, displaying that the excess user fee of Rs. 5/- can be collected by the passengers. This may not be only case of overcharging at a toll plaza.
There could be multiple other cases where the toll operator could be overcharging the passengers. Hence it is important to be aware of the toll plaza rates before one begins a journey. The National Highways Toll Information System (NHTIS) provides all the required information regarding various toll plazas across the country.
The Toll Plaza Information System
NHAI is responsible for the development, maintenance and management of National Highways entrusted to it. National Highways across the country are built either in the EPC or BOT or PPP mode. Once the highway is built, Toll Plazas are setup and rates are fixed by the government.
The operation of the toll plaza is entrusted to a private party. These private parties man the toll plazas across the country and collect the toll amount as decided by the government from time to time.
The NHTIS has all the information about any toll plaza in the country. The portal has information on all the toll plazas are mapped and coloured based on the mode in which they are built. One can also download an android application of the NHTIS.
How to find a Toll Plaza?
There are multiple ways one can find a specific toll plaza from the NHTIS portal. One can search using the name of the toll plaza or find toll plazas between any two places on the national highway. For e.g., there are eight (8) toll plazas between Hyderabad & Bengaluru and the total one way charge is Rs 599.
What all information is available about each Toll Plaza?
The portal has the following information about each toll plaza. Here is the information about a toll plaza at Gamjal in Telangana on the Hyderabad-Nagpur Highway.
- Gazette Notification authorizing collection of toll
- Latest Rate Revision order
- Details of the Stretch
- Tollable Length of the Highway
- Toll Rates & effective dates of the toll rates
- Concessions (if any)
- Facilities available near the toll plaza
- List of Exempted Vehicles
- Monthly Inspection Reports
- Other Important Information like Helpline Number, Nearest Police Station, Contact details of the Project Director, Representative of the Private Party and details of the nearest hospital etc.
The portal also has details of the average traffic per day and cumulative toll revenue among other details. The rates are revised frequently and it is best to check the latest rate revision order to find the latest rate.
Toll Plaza details through SMS
Toll Rates can also be accessed through mobile phones by sending SMS to 56070 with predefined text messages in the following format
- To get list of toll plaza(s) and their respective Toll Plaza ID on particular NH within a State
- TIS < State Code> < NH No. >
- State Code should be Two Character Code of respective State as per Vehicle Registration No. of respective State viz. DL for Delhi, HR for Haryana, TS for Telangana, MH for Maharashtra, GJ for Gujarat and so on.
- The system will return a SMS with list of toll plaza(s) and their respective Toll Plaza ID
- To get applicable toll rates on a particular toll plaza.
- TIS < Toll Plaza ID >
- The system will return a SMS with Toll Rates of the respective Toll Plaza.
Here is how you can make a complaint if you find a discrepancy
If you find any discrepancy in the toll fee collected or have any other complaint about the operation of the toll plaza, there are multiple ways you can take this to the notice of the NHAI.
- Leave feedback on the portal.
- Make a complaint on the NHAI toll free number 1800-1160-62
- Lodge a grievance on the PG Portal under Ministry of Road Transport & Highways
- Make a complaint to the respective Project Director whose details can be found from the NHTIS portal
The NHAI is also extending cash reward of up to Rs 25,000 for information about corruption in NHAI or its projects. This is the scheme under which Prashant Burge was rewarded.
Regular Updates on the Portal
Regular updates about various new rules, circulars are also posted on the portal. For instance, there is a circular issued in July 2014 on curbing wrong practices & checking the performance of the toll collection contractors.
According to this circular, toll contractors are prohibited from giving Namkeen/Coffee/Wafer packets instead of giving change for the balance amount while paying the toll fee. The penalty for such practices is also enhanced to Rs 10 lakh apart from possible termination of the contract.
The circular also talks about the contractor giving ads in local newspapers for returning the change in case Namkeen/Coffee/Wafer packets are given instead of change.
Each Toll plaza operator is also instructed to put up placards in the following format for providing information to the passengers.
(Rakesh has been working on issues related to Right to Information (RTI) for a decade. He is a Data/Information enthusiast & passionate about Governance/Policy issues).