Jammu, Jul 29: Toll plazas are established all along the National Highways which have been upgraded to four lanes and above. The distances at which these are to be set up or the tariffs to be charged including the procedure of their annual revision and list of exemptions are included in Government of India National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) regulations-2008. The longest National Highway (NH) of our country NH 44 that connects KanyaKumari to Kashmir and enters J&K at Lakhanpur has number of toll plazas along its entire stretch and anybody travelling by road to J&K has to pay toll tax at these plazas and hence to say that “Jazia” is being imposed by starting Toll Plaza at Lakhanpur is not only false but ethically also incorrect as it sends a wrong message to the common masses, asserted Brig Veteran Anil Gupta, Spokesperson of Bharatiya Janata Party.
“In fact, the same leaders who while travelling to Delhi or Chandigarh by road happily pay the toll tax and do not utter a word of criticism for the Punjab Government or ruling party in that state. But when same toll tax is charged on the NH 44 within J&K, they not only emotionally exploit the people for petty political gains but also create law and order problems. At a time when the nation faces twin challenge of Corona and troubled borders the whole nation needs to be united but regretfully a few political parties in the UT have chosen to create disturbances in this sensitive region,” stated Brig Gupta. I appeal to all of them to accept the necessity of toll plazas as instruments of development since money earned here will be utilised for maintenance and upgradation of the NH falling under its jurisdiction leading to generation of employment, safer and smoother riding and saving of fuel, stated Brig Gupta.
No amount of politics or agitations will uproot these toll plazas. They are here to stay and new ones will come up in those stretches of NH as and when four-laning is completed.
Clarifying various myths and falsehood being spread to provoke the masses for petty political gains, Brig Gupta said that as per rules no two toll plazas should be setup within 60 km of the same section of the NH. While the toll plaza at Lakhanpur covers Lakhanpur-Samba section of the NH44, the one at Thandikhui covers the section Samba-Kunjwani-Jammu Bypass. Ban toll plaza covers the section Nagrota- Udhampur. All three toll plazas are in three different sections of NH 44. Similarly another myth that there are no toll plazas in the Union Territories is also completely false.
As regards return fare concession Brig Gupta clarified that the facility is available only to the fast tag users as per the latest instructions of NHAI. The facility of monthly passes at a fixed monthly fee for daily commuters residing within 20 km has also been introduced at Lakhanpur.
For those spreading the canard of more toll plazas in Jammu as compared to Kashmir, Brig Gupta advised to check the length of four-laned NH in Jammu province and compare it with Kashmir to realise that unnecessary politics is being played to create friction between the two regions. Qazigund to Srinagar is a 70 km stretch of completed NH 44 and one toll plaza is functional on this section at Awantipore. As soon as the Banihal-Qazigund section is completed a toll plaza would be setup there as well. Toll has to be paid at all tunnels and special bridges as per the NHAI regulations reiterated Brig Gupta.