Toll plaza hassles aren't exactly new and most of us have suffered from being stuck in long queues for countless hours. Now the next time you are waiting at a toll booth and your waiting time exceeds three minutes, you could drive right through without paying. Yes it certainly is true and in fact approved by the law.
As per the reply received to an RTI filing by advocate Hariom Jindal from the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), commuters can pass the toll plaza free of cost, should they spend over 2 minutes and 50 seconds waiting in the queue.
According to advocate Hariom Jindal, "I filed the RTI as I experienced long delays in paying toll while travelling on NH1 between Ludhiana and Delhi and also between Chandigarh and Ambala at different places and on various occasions,"Jindal told TOI over the phone. "I used to get frustrated and I used to argue with the staff, but they never gave me a proper reply to redress my grievance of endless waits. If a person is made to wait before the toll plaza for an hour or 30 minutes, the very purpose of having such tolled roads is defeated. I thought I should do something about it and filed an RTI."
"Based on that provision, I used to record a video during such waits, show the video and the RTI reply to toll booth personnel and they allowed me to pass without paying toll." Jindal received the reply in August last year but put it out on social media recently to inform others .
The reply to the RTI from NHAI reads, "There is total waiting time of 3 minutes. If the 3 minutes exceeds in waiting, than there is a provision to pass the vehicle free of cost." The reply further says that "2 minutes and 50 seconds are required for a vehicle to wait for its turn in the queue.
YV Prasad, chief general manager of NHAI-Karnataka said it was up to the ministry to reply. Y Rajeev Reddy, former chief gener al manager of NHAI-Karnataka said: "As per NHAI rules, we should not collect toll from a vehicle which has been waiting in queue at a toll plaza for more than three minutes. But in cities like Bengaluru, we do not get enough land to have more toll booths at any toll plaza, so the queues are more than three minutes. But we are unable to follow the rule. The concessionaire charges toll from all vehicles which have waited for more than three minutes because if it does not, it will be a loss to the government."
The National Highways Authority of India has issued a clarification stating that no such rule allowing exemption from paying toll charges because of time taken exists. “There is no specific exemption applicable relating to either time taken or distance of queuing of vehicles at Plaza, as part of transaction. As such, it is clarified that there is no provision of exemption to User Fee in case time taken for crossing the plaza is more than 3 minutes”.