The Roads and Buildings Minister of Telangana, V Prashanth Reddy, has written an open letter to Union Minister Nitin Gadkari opposing the proposed increase in toll taxes at National Highways in Telangana. Currently, there are 32 toll gates in Telangana that collect toll tax for the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). The Minister believes that the toll tax rates have already become a heavy burden on the people of Telangana and further increases will only add to their woes.
Since 2014, the Centre has sanctioned Rs 1,25,176 Crores for 113 National Highway projects and CRIF works in Telangana state, but only Rs 20,350 crore has been spent in the last nine years. The toll tax collection has increased by 300 percent during this time, from Rs 600 crores in 2014 to Rs 9000 crores in the last nine years. This increase has led to higher prices of essential goods supplied by trucks and an increase in common bus fares, making life burdensome for the middle-class people.
Prashanth Reddy has also called out Union Minister G Kishan Reddy and many BJP leaders for making misleading statements about the Centre’s spending on national highways. He believes that while the approvals for national highways in Telangana State are like a mountain on paper, the expenditure is very small. The toll tax collection in the state has already accounted for half of the money spent by the central government. Additionally, he questions how much money the Centre has collected from the people of Telangana State over the last nine years by increasing the prices of petrol and diesel and in the name of additional road cesses on petrol and diesel.
The Minister believes that it is necessary for the Centre to account to the people of Telangana State where that money is going. He hopes that the Centre will roll back the decision to increase toll taxes in Telangana and reduce the burden on its people.