#NewsBytesExplainer: Why toll agency terminated contract for UP's Purvanchal Expressway
The Purvanchal Expressway in Uttar Pradesh, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November 2021, is not even getting half the traffic as projected prompting the toll collection agency to quit. The toll was being levied on the 342km-long expressway from May 1 and was envisaged to collect Rs. 65 lakh a day, but the agency only collects just about 45% of the target.
Why does this story matter?
- The total cost of the ambitious project was Rs. 22,494.66 crore, including the cost of land.
- The authorities had expected to reportedly earn Rs. 202 crore each year through the expressway.
- Light motor vehicles pay Rs. 675 as toll tax, light commercial vehicles pay Rs. 1,065, and heavy vehicles pay Rs. 2,145 as toll tax on the Purvanchal Expressway.
Reasons for low traffic on Purvanchal Expressway
According to the UP Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA), which held a meeting in June, the toll agency collected less than Rs. 7.5 crore between May 1-26 as against the targeted Rs. 17 crore. The UPEIDA said that the incomplete Lucknow Ring Road, the high toll for heavy vehicles, and an incomplete bridge over River Ganga in Bihar's Buxar resulted in low traffic.
Lucknow Ring Road, Buxar bridge to be ready by December
The vehicles coming from Delhi-NCR via Yamuna Expressway and Agra-Lucknow Expressway are unable to ply smoothly to the Purvanchal Expressway because of the non-completion of the Lucknow Outer Ring Road. Notably, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has said the ring road would be ready by December this year. The NHAI added that the bridge in Buxar would also be completed by December.
Toll for heavy vehicles 20% higher than national highway tolls
The UPEIDA also said that the toll for heavy vehicles on the Purvanchal Expressway is nearly 20% more than the toll on National Highways. Therefore, heavy vehicles use national highways instead of this expressway. It suggested that making the toll on a par with NHAI will increase collections. To note, the traffic on the Purvanchal Expressway is less than that on the Agra-Lucknow Expressway.
Why did tolling agency quit?
The tolling agency, Prakash Asphaltings and Toll Highways (India) Limited, asked the state government for premature termination of the contract as it had wrongly assessed the realizable user fee. It will also forfeit 25% of the performance security it had given to the government. The UPEIDA will now select a new tolling agent and till then Prakash Asphaltings would continue to do the job.
Expressway covers over 340 kilometers
The Purvanchal Expressway is nearly 342 kilometers long. It starts from Chandsarai village in the Lucknow district and ends at Haidaria village in the Ghazipur district. It traverses through nine districts of Uttar Pradesh, including Lucknow, Barabanki, Faizabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Amethi, Sultanpur, Azamgarh, Mau, and Ghazipur. It also connects cities such as Varanasi, Ayodhya, Gorakhpur, and Allahabad through link roads.