Pulwama: The long pending demand of people living near the toll plaza in the Anantnag and Pulwama districts, for an exemption from paying toll tax might soon be fulfilled as the central government has acknowledged that the practice will be abolished soon.
The Kaichachkoot toll plaza was made operational a few years back, on NH-44. While it is located in the jurisdiction of the Pulwama district, it is quite close to dozens of villages and many towns in the Anantnag district as well.
People living in these areas have been demanding that they should be exempted from paying the toll tax, but the administration did not pay any heed to the demands.
“All that was done was that vehicles belonging to people living within the 20 Kilometres of the toll plaza were given a monthly pass – which initially cost them 265 Rupees,” a senior official in the administration told Kashmir Reader.
At present, the official said, this monthly pass costs 315 Rupees. “This was done as per the norms of the NHAI, but partially. It has to be a 20 Kilometre radius and not a distance of 20 Kilometres as per the guidelines. But the contractors of the plaza do not pay heed to this,” the official said.
Besides, it has become a hassle to acquire the pass, particularly after the implementation of the FasTag system. Commuters told Kashmir Reader that they have to get their passes renewed before the 10th of every month or they end up paying the full amount.
All that might change soon, however. On Wednesday, the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, called the practice, “Unjustified, unlawful and not good,” during the ongoing session of the parliament.
Gadkari was answering a question regarding the issue by Congress MP Jebi Mather, during the question hour. Gadkari assured that a new system is going to be put into place and people living within the vicinity of the toll plazas won’t have to pay the tax anymore.
“They are taking only 10 Kilometres of the road and are paying for 75 Kilometres. The new system that will be implemented soon in the city areas will be eliminated and people living in the vicinity won’t have to pay,” the Minister said.
He said that it was not his problem, instead, it was a problem of the previous government, “and we are going to rectify it,”
Gadkari also said that the government was working to replace the existing toll levying system with either a GPS-enabled or a VNRS-based fee collection.
“We have two options. Either the toll will be directly deducted from the bank account, based on a GPS tracking system or registration tracking that will levy toll tax based on entry and exit points,” he told the members of the Parliament.
He said that the best technology will be chosen within a month and soon there will be no queues and traffic jams at toll plazas.