35,000 ex-servicemen to lose toll plaza jobs


Prime VIP
NHAI to take over plazas and auction them through open bidding

New Delhi, June 25

The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has decided to take over the toll plazas from the ex-servicemen and auction them to the private parties through an open bidding. The order in this regard was passed earlier this week. At least 25,000 ex-servicemen are running NHAI-owned toll plazas while another 10,000 provide logistical support.

Ex-servicemen were roped in to run these toll plazas 2004 onwards, following efforts put in by the Directorate General of Resettlement. Incidentally, the decision of the NHAI to auction the toll plazas to private players comes despite the fact that ever since their management has been taken over by the ex-servicemen, there has been a substantial increase in toll collection.

On the other hand, the ministry feels that allotting such jobs to ex-servicemen led to revenue losses and inefficient management. Reports said the collections at the ex-servicemen run toll plazas had gone up from previously 15 per cent to 80 per cent.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways came out with the circular No. NHAI/13013/09-10/Tolling Options dated 22-06-2010 whereby about 50 toll plazas through the country would be put on the block in the first round.

The rest would be put on the block later on, the reports stated. Incidentally, the NHAI has decided to keep the toll plazas in Jammu and Kashmir, northeastern states or in other disturbed areas, for the agencies sponsored by the Director General of Resettlement. But, ironically, there are no toll plazas in these areas. The reports said the tender process for the bidding had also been undertaken and it could take place over the next few weeks.

Of the total tolled sections, 104, including bridges, are publicly funded or developed by the NHAI. Fiftythree of them are public-private partnership projects, so the implementing concessionaire manages the toll collection or outsources it. The government has already laid the pre-qualification criteria for the selection of contractor for the operation and maintenance purposes.

A bidder should have a net worth of one-third of the estimated annual toll collection on the stretch he has applied and in case a bidder bids for more than one plaza, an additional 10 per cent of the net worth has been prescribed.

The ministry, however, has not made past tolling experience mandatory for bidding even though preference will be given for the same through weightage. A proprietorship will not be eligible for this work. The guidelines also allow partnerships registered under the Limited Liability Partnership Act, 2008, in addition to partnership under the Indian Partnership Act 2008.

Cooperative Societies will also be eligible for bidding, provided they qualify the financial criteria. A delegation of ex-servicemen running the toll plazas also met Defence Minister AK Antony. The minister assured them that he would take up the matter with Road Transport and Highways Minister Kamal Nath.

The delegation told Antony that this decision was against the 2009 election manifesto of the UPA government, where it had stated that their services would be utilised for nation building.