SC to hear Noida Toll Bridge Co’s plea, company’s stock crashes (Roundup)

New Delhi, Oct 27 (IANS) The Supreme Court will on Friday hear the plea of Noida Toll Bridge Company (NTBCL) to restart the toll collection operations at the Delhi-Noida-Direct (DND) Flyway but investors were spooked on Thursday a day after the Allahabad High Court ordered the company to stop collecting the toll.

The company’s scrip plunged to its lower circuit limit, a fall of almost 20 per cent to Rs 17.85 on Thursday from its previous close of Rs 22.30.

The company was formed as a special purpose vehicle (SPV) with equity participation from Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) Transportation Networks and NOIDA (New Okhla Industrial Development Authority).

The company is also the only listed toll road in the country. It is listed on both the major domestic indices as well as the AIM exchange, London.

The scrip of IL&FS Transportation Networks, dropped by 2.85 per cent at Rs 110.50.

Even though the toll collection at the DND has ceased since Wednesday evening, state-owned Delhi Transport Corporation continued to collect the levy from its passengers.

The passenger carrier said that the toll collection will continue till official communique on the matter is received.

“We have not received any official communique to stop charging the toll,” Anuj Sinha, Deputy CGM (Operations), DTC, told IANS.

The DND flyway started operations in 2001. The 9.2-km stretch was built for Rs 407 crore and is believed to have already collected total Rs 2,000 crore in toll.

The toll currently is Rs 12 for two-wheeler and Rs 28 for four-wheeler on a one-way trip.

No authority from the NTBCL was available for comments over the issue even if approached repeatedly.

Even if the Allahabad High Court order to stop the toll collection was hailed by the commuters, Delhi has witnessed heavy traffic congestion in many stretches since Wednesday evening.

“No doubt it’s a smooth passage through the DND as there is no wait for the toll but a new problem of the heavy traffic while entering Delhi has popped up. Cars and other vehicles zoom past through the DND but while entering Delhi they have to wait for hours. Yesterday it took two hours to reach Green Park,” Sakshi Tanwar, a professor with Amity University, told IANS.

Another daily commuter, Zohrab Hussain, told IANS: “I was stuck in the traffic snarl for three hours before reaching my office in Moolchand. The DND had some positive affect at least by regulating the movement of the vehicles.”

Experts have also said that the traffic situation in the city will deteriorate further as DND at least played a role in regulating the vehicles movement from Noida to Delhi or the other way.

“The halt to toll collection is certainly in favour of people but government seriously needs to think about developing road infrastructure. The government also needs to promote public transport,” Kamal Sai, Member National Road Safety Council, told IANS.

According to Sai, the major reasons behind the increase in traffic also is that many commuters avoiding the DND due to its toll have now started using it.

“Now the usage of cars will be more as there is no toll. People avoiding it till now due to it have started using the DND flyway as their is no toll now. Government should think of building various layers of roads, like flyovers abroad, which is the only solution to avoid traffic congestions. Public transport should be promoted,” he said

Experts pointed-out that Delhi has over 24,00,000 cars and 500,000 buses which should just be the opposite.

Amit Khatri, a Road Safety Trainer and Consultant, told IANS that the removal of toll collection is certainly going to cause heavy traffic snarls, as now, all types of vehicles will use the DND.

Questioning how the DND stretch will be maintained after the High court order, Khatri also said that the toll collected by DND till now was being used to maintain the stretch.