Supreme Court to review BOT policy
New Delhi, May 9 (IANS) The Supreme Court Wednesday indicated that it would take a look at the government's build-operate-transfer (BOT) policy that allows private operators to build roads and charge toll tax to cover their costs.
An apex court bench of Justice D.K. Jain and Justice Anil R. Dave expressed concern over the manner in which the policy was being implemented in different parts of the country. Roads are frequently dug up and consumers are overcharged, the court observed.
"These infrastructures are not only for the builders but also for the users," Justice Jain said during the hearing of a petition filed by NGO People's Voice, which alleged mismanagement of the toll road between Delhi and Gurgaon.
The bench directed senior counsel Bhim Singh, who appeared for the NGO, to file a petition covering such BOT schemes all over the country.
The court indicated that it would examine the efficacy and implementation of the BOT policy.
Describing the BOT scheme as a "highway robbery", Bhim Singh told the court that the multiple taxation in the country was discriminatory and violative of the Article 14 and 21 of the constitution.
The senior counsel told the court that the government was charging 2 percent cess on every litre of petrol and diesel and vehicle owners were paying road tax and toll tax yet roads were put under the BOT scheme.
The court was told that the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway was given to a private operator under the BOT policy for a total cost of Rs.555 crore and as of 2012, that operator had already realised Rs.671 crore.
The agreement was valid till 2023 and the company would walk away with a huge return running into thousands of crores of rupees, he said.
The court was told that there were no new roads in Jammu and Kashmir nor was there any widening of the existing roads yet the moment one entered the state a toll was levied.
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