The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed SYMR Consortium, which collects toll at various entry points to Delhi, to exit the contract on January 31. The apex court also asked the South Delhi Municipal Corporation to make alternative arrangement by 6 am on February 1.
The consortium told the Bench presided over by Chief Justice T S Thakur that the contract was no longer feasible because of the court orders last year to charge environment compensation charge on commercial vehicles entering Delhi. After the orders, the traffic has come down and the expenses on infrastructure and wages have risen. These expenses were not envisaged in the contract, which became operative in May last year for three years.
In the next three weeks, the toll collector must continue to collect the rates, fixed at Rs 1,400 and Rs 2,600 depending upon the power of the vehicles. As ordered, the toll shall be handed over to the corporation and the compensatory charges to the Delhi government. This will flow into a fund to repair the damage done to environment by trucks entering the capital though their destination is in other states.The court asked the corporation to start the process of making alternative arrangements well in time before February 1.
In an elaborate order, the court sorted out the dues owed by the consortium to the government and invocation of bank guarantees. It also sought an undertaking from the consortium managing partner that the order will be complied with. The present consortium shall not be allowed to bid for the new contract.
The corporation did not object to the consortium exiting the arrangement, though there were disputes over the dues. Harish Salve, senior counsel appointed by the court to assist it, also did not oppose the premature termination of the contract but objected to the claims made by the consortium regarding expenses on additional staff and infrastructure. The court settled the dispute over the amounts and passed the order to settle the issues finally, exercising its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution.