Mangaluru, July 17, 2019: A strong protest was staged by members of like-minded organisations – including the Toll Gate Virodhi Horata Samithi, BJP and Congress – at the Surathkal toll gate. Members of various organisations gathered at the toll gate at Surathkal at 7 am on Tuesday, when collection from locally registered (KA19) vehicles was to begin.
Following the protest, DK DC Sasikanth Senthil passed an order to postpone collection of toll by three days at the Surathkal toll plaza, after which, the protesters withdrew from the place.
In order to prevent untoward incidents and to maintain law and order, police had strengthened the security at and near the toll plaza. Also, following an appeal by District In-charge Minister U T Khader, MLA Dr Bharath Shetty Y and MP Nalin Kumar Kateel, the DK DC decided to extend the exemption for locally registered vehicles from paying toll for three days.
Welcoming the DC’s order, the protesters also opposed the collection of toll from local registration vehicles even in future. “Depending on the future course of action by the deputy commissioner, we will chalk out our plan of action,” the Samithi members stated.
The committee members urged the authorities to merge Surathkal toll plaza with Hejamady toll. “The distance between the two toll gates is only nine kilometres. The toll is collected at Surathkal illegally. The contract for maintenance of the plaza at Surathkal ends by October. MP Nalin Kumar Kateel should exert pressure on the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to reject the proposal to renew the contract,” they insisted.
The protesters were also seen creating awareness on exemption from paying toll at the plaza to all vehicles. Minister U T Khader had written to the chief secretary on July 16,Monday to withhold the move until the Surathkal toll plaza was merged with the one at Hejamady.
The minister had written that there had been opposition from local residents when the toll plaza was set up near the NITK, Surathkal. There is another toll plaza situated a few kilometres away from Surathkal. Toll collection at both gates will burden the local residents, he had explained.
“The toll collections at Surathkal was allowed after laying down the condition that toll should not be collected from locals and the toll plaza should be merged with Hejamady toll plaza within a year. Hence, the toll at Surathkal is wrong ,” Minister Khader stated in the letter.
Further, the minister had said that, without taking any steps to merge the Surathkal toll plaza with Hejamady toll, the NHAI has now resorted to toll collection from local vehicles, which cannot be accepted. Further reaction is awaited.