The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has told the Madras High Court that collection of toll on national highways cannot be stopped on expiry of agreements entered with private concessionaires on Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis. The authority claimed that it was entitled to continue the collection till full recovery of the capital cost of individual projects, even if it takes more than three decades to do so.
In a counter affidavit filed before Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and R. Hemalatha on Monday, the NHAI listed several components for determining the capital cost of a project and said, “The initially estimated year of capital recovery period or payback period of investment is always traumatised by unpredictable forces like rate of inflation, change in rate of interest, change in pattern of traffic, alternative options, emerging technology etc.”
The counter was filed in response to a public interest litigation petition filed by Tiruchi-based advocate A. Joseph Sagayaraj to restrain the NHAI from collecting toll at Athur and Paranur toll plazas on the Tambaram-Tindivanam section, since the concession agreements had come to an end in November 2019. His counsel M.J. Jaseem Mohamed argued that unending collection of toll amounted to “tax terrorism.”
On the other hand, explaining the process in detail, Additional Solicitor General G. Rajagopalan and Assistant Solicitor General G. Karthikeyan said the NHAI had entered into an agreement with GMR Tambaram-Tindivanam Expressways Private Limited on October 9