NEW DELHI: The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will stop toll collecting toll across National highways in the country during the 21 days’ nationwide lockdown announced on Tuesday owing to the Covid-19 outbreak.
The move comes after the authority sought opinion from the ministry of road transport and highways in this regard on Wednesday.
In a letter issued to NHAI on Wednesday evening, the ministry of road transport and highways said that the Ministry of Home Affairs’ order on March 24 stated that “commercial and private establishments shall be closed down for a period of 21 days with effect from 25.03.2020 for containment of Covid-19 epidemic in the country,” further asking the authority to therefore comply with the orders.
ET reported on March 25 that toll collection across around 530 toll plazas on National highways in the country had halved in just the past week.
Several parts of the country had been gradually locking down over the last week as Covid-19 cases rose in the country.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the country on Tuesday announced a nationwide lockdown for 21 days beginning March 25, even as essential services were allowed to operate.
The directive from the Ministry of Home Affairs issued soon after the PM’s address said that all transport services including rail, road, and air, would remain suspended during the period of lockdown. Transportation of essential goods, fire, law and order, and emergency services were exempted.
In some cases, where toll is operated by a private player, the government will have to compensate the loss of revenue to operators, as Covid-19 can classify under the force majeure clause of concession or contract agreement as per rules laid by Finance Ministry, which essentially saves the performing party from the consequences of events beyond their control.