India Set to Implement Road Toll Hikes Post General Elections: Impact on Commuters and Economy

New Delhi – India is gearing up for an increase in road toll charges by 3-5% across the nation, set to take effect from Monday. This decision, postponed during the country’s general elections in April, is expected to have significant implications for commuters and the broader economy.

Annually revised toll charges, typically aligned with inflation, will see adjustments at nearly 1,100 toll plazas, as highway operators announce hikes ranging from 3% to 5%. A senior official at the National Highways Authority of India affirmed that with the conclusion of the election process, the revision of user fees would become effective from June 3.

The rationale behind these toll increases lies in financing the expansion of national highways, alongside taxation on fuel products. However, opposition parties and many motorists have voiced criticism, arguing that such hikes escalate transportation costs for essential commodities and impose a burden on commuters.

Major operators in the sector, including IRB Infrastructure Developers and Ashok Buildcon Ltd, stand to benefit from these toll increases, highlighting the interplay between infrastructure development and private enterprise.

India’s substantial investments over the last decade in expanding its national highway network, totaling approximately 146,000 kilometers, position it as the world’s second-largest road network. Toll collections have surged to over 540 billion rupees ($6.5 billion) in the 2022/23 fiscal year, a significant increase from 252 billion in 2018/19, driven by rising road traffic and expansions in toll plaza infrastructure and charges.

The conclusion of India’s general election, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led alliance projected to secure a significant majority according to TV exit polls, sets the stage for policy continuity amidst evolving economic landscapes. However, the impact of these toll hikes on commuters and the broader economy remains a subject of debate and scrutiny.