Guwahati: Assam may soon have a total of 27 toll gates on national highways, pending approval from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) for 18 additional toll gates.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma shared this information in response to an unstarred question from Independent MLA Akhil Gogoi during the question hour on the last day of the budget session of the Assam Legislative Assembly on Thursday.
Sarma, who is in charge of Assam’s Public Works Department, stated that currently, nine toll gates are operational under the administration of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).
The NHAI and National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL) have confirmed that construction of nine more toll gates is underway, with plans for an additional four toll gates. Furthermore, the construction of five toll gates has already been completed, according to Sarma.
The nine toll gates are Kokrajhar (Patgaon Toll Gate), Bongaigaon (Dahalpara Toll Gate), Nalbari (Galia Toll Gate), Kamrup (Madaanpur Toll Gate), Nagaon (Raha Toll Gate), Hojai (Mikirrati Gao Gaon Toll Gate), Dima Hasao (Mandardisa Toll Gate), and Cachar (Balacherra Toll Gate).
However, the Aam Admi Party (AAP) Assam state convenor, Dr Bhaven Choudhury, opposes the establishment of additional toll gates in the state. He has been protesting against toll gates in Assam, stating that the inclusion of more toll plazas every 60 km result in additional toll taxes that burden the people.
Dr Bhaven Choudhury questioned the state government’s stance on toll plazas, citing that Minister Pijush Hazarika had previously stated that toll plazas were a central concern and the state government had no authority over them. He also pointed out that Punjab was able to withdraw a toll plaza in their state, and asked why the Assam government could not do the same.
Dr Choudhury highlighted that toll plazas created numerous problems, including harassment of commoners, increased prices of essential commodities, and transporters being forced to raise their fares due to the additional toll charges.
Independent MLA Akhil Gogoi demanded that the government withdraw all toll gates, expressing surprise that the government planned to construct an additional 18 toll gates on different highways.
The state secretary of the Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPI-M), Suprakash Talukdar, commented on the issue, stating that the BJP-led government was using commoners as a weapon for taxation. He criticized the government for exempting big houses from taxes while imposing various taxes, fines, and fees on ordinary people. According to Talukdar, the construction of new toll gates reflected this policy.
On April 2, during a mass rally in Guwahati, the Chief Minister of Punjab, Bhagwant Mann, claimed that his government had closed the 16-year-old toll plaza on Kiratpur Sahib Nangal-Una road. This move aimed to help commuters save Rs 10.12 lakh per day on that route. Mann also claimed that his government had closed down eight toll plazas in the state and accused previous governments of colluding with toll plazas to illegally loot people.
He claimed that the era of the road on rent had ended in the state and it was a big reprieve for people.
In addition to this, from March 31, seven toll gates of the state hike the toll fees which invited protests from various individuals and organisations.
At present, Nazirakhat Toll Gate hiked the toll fee from Rs 125 to Rs 135 for cars, vans, jeeps and light motor vehicles for a single journey while the toll rate for light goods vehicles, minibus and light commercial vehicles has been hiked from Rs 205 to Rupees 215 for a single journey.
The toll rate for 2-axle trucks and buses has been increased from Rs 445 to Rs 455 for a single journey.
Raha Toll Gate charge Rs 115 for cars, jeeps, vans, and light motor vehicles from the Rs 110 vehicle owners of this segment were paying for a single journey.
The toll fee for light commercial vehicles and light goods vehicles has been increased from Rs 175 to Rs 185 for a single journey as per the revised toll tax.
The fee has been increased from Rs 370 to Rs 390 for two axles buses and trucks at the Raha Toll Gate.
Madanpur Toll Gate charge Rs 130 for cars, jeeps, vans, and light motor vehicles that pay Rs 125 at present for a single journey while the toll rate for light good vehicles, minibus and light commercial vehicles has been increased from Rs 205 to Rs 210 for a single journey.
The toll rate for 2-axle trucks and buses has been increased from Rs 420 to Rs 440 for a single journey.
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Mikirrati Gao Gaon Toll Gate charge Rs 95 for cars, jeeps, vans, and light motor vehicles that earlier paid Rs 90 for a single journey while the toll tax has been increased from Rs 145 to Rs 150 for commercial vehicles, light goods vehicles for a single journey and it is increased from Rs 305 to Rs 320 for two axles buses and trucks.
“This hike is usual. It is hiked every year. The toll rate is different for different toll gates. It is fixed by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways,” said Sanjeev Kumar Sharma, regional officer, NHAI, Guwahati.
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