YB WEB DESK. Dated: 4/7/2021 12:26:51 PM

Jammu, Apr 6 Agitated over the recent hike in toll fees charged at Toll Plazas in Jammu, a strong contingent of Panther activists spearheaded by Harsh Dev Singh Chairman-JKNPP staged a thunderous protest demonstration outside National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) office in Jammu today. Expressing fury against the BJP, NHAI and Union Ministry for surface Transport, the angry protesters demanded immediate closure of all Toll Plazas in view of the socio-political and economic upheaval in J&K. They raised slogans like “Kesri Jazia nahin chalega, nahin chalega”, “Loot Khasoot bandh karo, bandh karo”, “BJP Hai Hai” etc. Speaking to the media, Harsh Dev Singh regretted that notwithstanding govt’s earlier assurances to reduce the rates of toll plazas at Ban and others besides exemptions to locals, the NHAI had once again hiked the toll rates to be levied at Toll plazas against the wishes of the people who had been protesting against the establishment of these ‘points of extortion’ in the city of temples. He further regretted that the govt had failed to allay the apprehensions of people regarding govt’s proposal of opening additional toll plazas at Ring road and Akhnoor road. Lambasting the NHAI for levying ‘Jazia’ upon the people, Harsh Dev Singh said that both the present BJP government and its nodal agency had connived together to organize loot and legalize plunder in the name of multiple Toll Plazas exclusively conceptualized for Jammu region. “You are extorting money from the commuters in the name of toll tax. Can you explain and justify the installation of Lakhanpur Plaza? Isn’t Sarore Toll Plaza just behind Ban Toll Plaza erected in violation of your own norms and guidelines? We will not tolerate this. Multiple Toll Plazas have only sparked public outrage and caused unrest in the entire Jammu region. Close them or get ready to face consequences”, warned Harsh. Expressing his serious concern over other Toll Plazas which were under pipeline, Harsh Dev Singh said that in view of the shabby road stretches, improper banking of the road curves and rising road accidents on the National Highways of Jammu province, the establishment of Toll Plazas has triggered widespread criticism over the functioning of NHAI. Is it an vicious outcome of contractor- NHAI nexus which is enjoying the patronage of the present government to sub serve the vested interests?”, questioned Harsh. Rebuking the frequent ugly episodes of brawl taking place at Toll Plazas, Singh said such incidents only raised many eyebrows over the credibility and integrity of NHAI and the contractors who run the toll plazas. Considering the dubious notoriety earned by the NHAI, he demanded high level probe into the tendering process of the nodal agency in allocation of contracts for the Ban and other Toll Plazas. Rebuking the hike in toll rates, Harsh Dev Singh said it would not only break the back of the people with hefty taxes but affect pilgrimage tourism which had been a backbone of J&K’s economy for decades.


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