Mangaluru, July 16, 2019: At a time when the Surathkal Toll Virodhi Horata Samiti, the Bharatiya Janata Party and residents are geared up for a showdown with the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) when it commences toll collection from local vehicles at Surathkal toll plaza on NH 66 from Tuesday, district in-charge Minister U.T. Khader has directed the Chief Secretary to withhold the move till the plaza is merged with the Hejmady toll plaza.
Citing losses to the exchequer, the NHAI had announced that it would commence toll collection from private vehicles with ‘KA 19’ registration numbers from Tuesday. It duly got police protection after complaining to the Chief Secretary.
In his letter to the Chief Secretary, Mr. Khader has stated that residents have been opposing the plaza ever since its opening, on the grounds of it standing on an unscientific location. Within a distance of 5 km there exists another toll plaza, at Hejmady on NH 66, and the NHAI has been indulging in multiple taxation, according to people, the Minister said.
Mr. Khader told the CS that during a recent conciliation meeting, the NHAI had agreed to merge the Surathkal toll plaza with the one at Hejmady, and till such time it would not collect toll from local vehicles. Without taking any steps to merge the plazas, the authority has now resorted to toll collection from local vehicles, which cannot be accepted, he said.
The Minister asked the Chief Secretary to direct the Deputy Commissioner to convey this decision to the NHAI.
‘No direction received’
The DC, S. Sasikanth Senthil, however, said he has not received any direction from the Chief Secretary so far. Police Commissioner Sandeep Patil said police personnel would be present at the plaza on Tuesday.
Samiti members met Mr. Senthil and appraised him of the background of the toll plaza. They urged him to convey the matter to the government and take steps to merge the plazas. Samiti convener Muneer Katipalla, former MLAs Vijaykumar Shetty and K. Abhayachandra Jain, district Youth Congress President Mithun Rai and others were present.