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Odishatv Bureau

Sundergarh: After a lull of nearly two months, protests over collection of toll taxes on the recently-inaugurated Sambalpur-Rourkela Biju Expressway have intensified in the district.

As per sources, the Bar Associations of Sundergarh, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Rajgangpur, Rourkela and Bonai, after a review meeting, submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and the Minister concerned in this regard.

The members of the Bar Association have demanded complete withdrawal of toll collection and threatened to stage demonstrations near the Masanikani tollgate in Sundergarh, Rengali tollgate in Sambalpur and at Laing toll gate near Rajgangpur if the toll collection is not withdrawn before May 25.

During the meeting, they further warned that if the demands are not fulfilled, the protests will have a direct impact on the upcoming Urban Local Body (ULB) and General elections.

We demand complete withdrawal of toll collection by May 25 for all vehicles registered in Sundergrah district. If the State Government does not fulfil our demand, then there will a massive protest near all the three toll gates on May 26. Even then if our demands are not met, the government will feel the pinch during the upcoming elections.

- Swaraj Patel, Secretary, District Bar Association, Sundergarh.

The expressway, which was inaugurated by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on March 12, has been constructed under Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) mode with the state government bearing 36 percent project cost while L&T paid 64 percent of the funds. Reports claimed that the executing agency, L&T has got approval to collect nearly Rs 50 lakh per day from the three toll gates for the next 19 years.

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