The Toll Gate Virodhi Horata Samithi, Surathkal, on Tuesday urged National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) not to further renew the toll collection contract for the NITK-Surathkal Toll Plaza on National Highway 66. If NHAI renews the collection contract again, the samithi will launch an agitation, it said.
Samithi convener Muneer Katipalla told reporters here that there were reports of the contract being renewed again for another three months despite periodical promises against doing it. These periodical renewals for three months and six months, despite assurances by MP Nalin Kumar Kateel and MLA Y. Bharath Shetty against such a move, indicate the acquiescence of elected representatives to illegal toll collection, he said.
Mr. Katipalla noted that when NITK Toll Plaza was being operationalised six years ago, NHAI and elected representatives had promised to merge it with the Hejamady Toll Plaza, 9 km away from NITK, in Udupi district. However, that did not happen and the NHAI has been periodically renewing collection contract at the NITK Toll Plaza in contravention of all rules and regulations governing toll collection.
Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari’s promise in December 2019 to hold a detailed meeting with all stakeholders to sort out the NITK Toll Plaza issue had not materialised so far even as Mr. Kateel continued to hold out promises that he will resolve the issue.
Mr. Katipalla urged the MP to arrange a meeting with Mr. Gadkari, who is scheduled to visit Dakshina Kannada on January 10, to resolve the issue, failing which samithi will launch a black flag protest.
Mr. Katipalla said that NHAI had made several attempts to deny free passage to Mangaluru (KA19) registered private vehicles at the toll plaza which the samithi has been opposing. While one each lane at the plaza was left without FAStag scanners to facilitate movement of private vehicles with KA19 registration, toll is being collected for buses whose operators pass on the hefty fee to passengers.
NHAI’s proposal to merge NITK Toll Plaza with the Hejamady Toll Plaza sent to the Ministry in 2018 has not been implemented so far, Mr. Katipalla regretted. The samithi had launched a 11-day protest a couple of years ago against the illegal toll collection, he said and recalled the promise made by the MLA [Dr. Bharath Shetty] to make B.C. Road-Surathkal stretch of National Highway 75 and National Highway 66 toll-free. The promise is yet to be implemented, he regretted.
Surathkal Jaya Karnataka president Raghavendra Rao, advocate Dinesh Hegde Ulepadi, the former Councillor Dayananda Shetty and others were present.