Kundapur, Dec 01, 2016: Members of the National Highway Jagriti Samiti agitated against attempts to collect toll from vehicles without fully completing the widening work of National Highway 66 on the Hejmady-Kundapur stretch staged a dharna near the toll gate at Sasthan in Udupi district on Nov 30, Wednesday .
It also demanded toll waiver for local vehicles whose registration numbers start with KA 20. The toll gate is yet to start functioning.
Addressing the protesters, Pratap Shetty, president of the samiti, said that they had learnt that Navayuga Engineering Company Ltd., which had undertaken the widening of the highway, was planning to collect toll from vehicles from December 2. But this made no sense as the work at many places was yet to be completed. Mere widening of the NH 66 was not enough. The company should also complete the construction of service roads joining the highway
Without service roads, people living in villages on either sides of the road would find it difficult to use the highway. Though all the work related to the highway widening was expected to be completed by 2013, it was extended by three years and was still incomplete, he said.
President Shetty said that the people living on either sides of the highway had given up their lands for the widening of the highway. Though underpasses had been constructed at a few places, there were demands from people for construction of overpasses at places including Ambalpady Junction in Udupi, Kota-Murukai and Basrur to manage vehicular traffic.
He demanded that Navayuga Engineering Company Ltd. and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) waive toll fee on local vehicles, whose registration number starts with KA 20 under the jurisdiction of Regional Transport Office, Udupi.
Yet another problem was lack of storm water drainages by the side of the highway at some places. This would lead to water logging during monsoon. Street lights had still not been installed in places such as Sasthan, Saligrama, Kota, Brahmavar, Katapady and others. Widening work of the highway had still not begun at Padubidri. If these demands were not met, the samiti would launch an agitation, Shetty said.
Rajesh Kaveri, president, Lorry Operators Association; Vittal Poojary, secretary, National Highway Jagriti Samiti; and Satish Mutlupady, leader of the Raitha Sangha, were present.