In a relief to millions of commuters in the NCR region, the Allahabad High Court on Wednesday declared that the 9.2-km-long, eight-lane Delhi-Noida Direct (DND) flyway toll-free.
A division bench comprising Justices Arun Tandon and Sunita Agarwal passed the order while allowing a public interest litigation filed by the Federation of Noida Residents’ Welfare Association. The PIL, which was filed in 2012, had challenged the “levy and collection of toll in the name of user fee by Noida Toll Bridge Company”. The high court had on August 8 reserved its judgement on the plea.
In a more than 100-page judgement, the court held, “The user fee which is being levied/realised is not supported by the legal provisions relied upon by the Concessionaire (Noida Toll Bridge Company), Infrastructure Leaning and Financial Services (promoter and developer of the project) and the Noida Authority.”
It said that the “right to levy and collect user fee from the commuters as conferred upon the Concessionaire under the concession agreement suffers from excessive delegation and is contrary to the provisions the UP Industrial Development Act”.
The court noted that “the Concessionaire, according to their own financial statements, has recovered Rs 810.18 crore (approx) from toll income from the date of commencement of the project till 31.03.2014 and after deduction of operation and maintenance expenses and corporate income tax, the surplus was Rs 578.80 crore (computed before interest, depreciation, and lease rental received by the Concessionaire)”.
“They have further realised user fee/toll two-and-a-half years thereafter between 01.04.2014 and 30.09.2016 which, as per the collection of user fee in the year 2013-14 would work out to an additional sum of Rs 300 crore (approx).
“We are, therefore, more than satisfied that the Concessionaire cannot now recover the user fees from the users/commuters of the Noida Toll Bridge the DND Flyover,” the high court said.
The Noida-Delhi DND Flyway connects Delhi on the west bank of Yamuna with Noida and East Delhi and makes for a 9.2-km-long stretch (including the Mayur Vihar link). The flyway, which charges Rs 28, is one of the better-run toll plazas. There have been protests seeking scrapping of the toll charge after it was alleged that the operator has already made significant profits.
(With inputs from agencies)