Mumbai, (DHNS): The Toll Gate Virodhi Horata Samiti, Surathkal, has decided to hold a day-long mass dharna near the NITK-Surathkal Toll Gate on August 14 in protest against National Highways Authority of India’s inaction in scrapping the toll gate.
Samiti convener and State president of the Democratic Youth Federation of India Muneer Katipalla told reporters here on Tuesday that having exhausted all available remedies, the samiti has decided to stage the mass protest in the interest of the common man.
Mr. Katipalla noted that the authorities had promised to merge Surathkal Toll Gate with the Hejmady Toll Gate when people of Surathkal and surrounding areas raised objections. Six months after the Surathkal Toll Plaza commenced operations, the plaza at Hejmady too was made operational and toll is being collected at both the places.
He also noted that the NHAI Mangaluru Project Office as well as MP Nalin Kumar Kateel had categorically promised not to renew the toll collection contract of the Surathkal Toll Plaza when it ends on July 31 this year. However, the contract has been renewed and toll collection is continuing, he said. Surathkal Plaza is managed by NHAI itself through a contractor.
The move is against the State government’s proposal to cancel toll collection, he said.
The DYFI leader said that all rules and regulations governing toll roads have been thrown to the wind by NHAI and other authorities concerned while collecting toll at Surathkal. Despite there being a rule that no two plazas should be situated within a distance of 40 km, two plazas function within 10 km.
While rules make it mandatory for NHAI to keep the tolled road in good and motorable condition, the entire stretch of National Highway 66 between Nanthoor and Surathkal is filled with potholes and craters, Mr. Katipalla said.
Mr. Katipalla said that he could not understand why NHAI, Mr. Kateel and people’s representatives are silent on the pathetic condition of the tolled road as well as continuation of toll collection. People have been talking of a nexus among the authorities concerned that has led to continuation of toll collection.
The samiti has demanded the immediate closure of the Surathkal Toll Plaza; construction of service roads for the entire length of the highway between Nanthoor and Surathkal and construction of a flyover at Nanthoor. Mr. Katipalla urged the general public to participate in large numbers in the dharna.
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