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Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: Transport Minister Ramesh Majhi on Saturday clarified that the hiked toll to be collected at the eight toll plazas in the State as per the notification by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has been put on hold for the time being.

Talking to media persons here, Majhi said; “The notification issued by the Commerce and Transport department on May 18 this year has been put on hold and the vehicles will pay toll at the rate prevalent before the above mentioned date.”

He added, “Within 10 days, the state government will submit a report for relocation of the toll gates.”

Earlier in the day, Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi had said the prevailing arrangement will continue at the toll plazas on the National Highways in the State. He, however, did not clarify whether the hiked toll will be collected at the toll plazas or not.

After a meeting with the visiting Chairman of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) Raghav Chandra, Padhi said, “The existing arrangement will continue until we submit a detailed report to the NHAI for their consideration as decided in today's discussion.”

“The NHAI will take up the issue with the Ministry of Road Transport,” he added.

Padhi, however, refuted the allegation that some of the toll gates were illegal. "These toll gates have been constituted as per their (NHAI's) guidelines. It is not appropriate to say that the toll gates are illegal since necessary permission was taken from the concerned authorities for their establishment," he said.

NHAI Chairman Raghav Chandra echoed Padhi saying; “The toll gates in the State are not illegal. The Government of India is fully seized of it (toll gates) and these have been set up as per the rule book. However, if there are any issues, the State government can send us a detailed proposal. We will examine the same and then respond.”

The hiked toll would have come into effect on June 1 as per the notification issued by the NHAI. But after stiff resistance to the hike by private bus operators as well as the people of the area where the toll plazas are located, the Transport Minister Ramesh Majhi had announced that the toll charges will be collected at the pre-hike rate. He had also accepted the bus operators' contention that some of the toll gates on the NH had been set up in violation of NHAI norms.

Review of 12 NHAI projects in the State were undertaken in the meeting. Total 620 km road work has been completed whereas 1,300 km work is going on. The meeting also talked about issues pertaining to land acquisition and charges in forest types for construction of the highways.

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