Mysore/Mysuru: The Congress party will hold a black flag demonstration on Mar. 11 to protest against what it called exorbitant toll levied on motorists using the Mysuru-Bengaluru 10-lane Access-Controlled Expressway (National Highway-275). Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to inaugurate the Expressway in Maddur on Mar. 11.
Addressing a press conference at the Congress Office yesterday, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) Spokesperson M. Lakshmana said that it was deplorable that the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) was collecting the toll even before the completion of the service roads and the bypasses.
“The toll rates have doubled and this will burden the common man. The NHAI must stop fleecing the public and it must start collecting the toll only after completing all the works,” he said.
“The toll fixed by the NHAI is not according to the rules. It is the highest in the country. We will resort to a silent protest on Mar. 11 waving black flags when the PM inaugurates the Expressway,” he said.
Orders from KPCC President
He said that he had received instructions from KPCC President D.K. Shivakumar to give a call to the Congress workers and the public to protest against the high toll rates. “The NHAI has announced a toll charge of Rs. 135 for 55 km of the road from Bengaluru to Nidaghatta. Going by this rate, the total toll from Bengaluru to Mysuru will be Rs. 300, the highest in India for such a distance, he said.
Claiming that the approval for widening the Expressway was given during the erstwhile rule of Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) at the Centre and Chief Minister Siddharamaiah-led regime in Karnataka in March 2014, Lakshmana said that if Congress was in power, the toll would have been ‘reasonable’.
Lakshmana said that toll cannot be levied till the service roads are completed and scientific underpasses are constructed along the Expressway. “Now the Expressway is obstructing the smooth crossing over of villagers residing on either side of the road,” he said and demanded entry and exit points at Srirangapatna, Mandya, Maddur, Channapatna, Ramanagara and Bidadi.
City Congress President R. Murthy, Rural Congress President Dr. B.J. Vijayakumar and others were present at the press conference.
One more protest
Meanwhile, the Bidadi unit of the Congress party staged a protest near the Sheshagirihalli Toll Plaza on the Expressway yesterday and slammed the NHAI for incomplete road works and high toll.
The NHAI is planning to collect the toll without completing the service road works. The condition of the service roads is pathetic and the Congress will not allow them to collect fees till they complete the pending works, the agitators said.
Moreover, service roads are not available for ambulances to reach the Expressway from the towns during emergencies, they said, pointing out at the number of accidents that are taking place on the Expressway daily.
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