New Delhi: In a move that has raised the
hackles of 25,000 ex-servicemen manning highway toll plazas,
the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has invited
bids to rope in private agencies for the job.
"The process of procurement of user fee collection agency
by calling open competitive bids is to be started with
immediate effect," NHAI said in its guidelines, issued on June
As expected, the move has not gone down well with
ex-servicemen, who collect user charges on behalf of NHAI at
about 150 plazas on different highways.
"We met Defence Minister A K Antony, who assured us that
he would take up the matter with Highways Minister Kamal Nath.
We intend to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh shortly," Ex-
Servicemen Association (ESA) secretary general HS Choudhary
He said that toll plazas were alloted to ex-servicemen in
2004 through the Directorate General (Rehabilitation). They
had enhanced toll collection by 80 per cent since then, he
"Disbanding ex-servicemen and auctioning the plazas has
come as a shock to us," he said.
When asked for his reaction, NHAI chairman Brijeshwar
Singh said that ex-servicemen were roped in on an ad hoc
basis. "Now, we have decided on a rational policy. We want to
engage professional agencies," he said.
However, Singh said that ex-servicemen would continue to
man toll collection booths in disturbed areas, besides Jammu
and Kashmir and North-Eastern states.
But ESA president HS Yadav countered the claim by saying
that there are no toll plazas in these areas.