Five out of eight toll plazas in Odisha illegal!

Bhubaneswar: A day after chief minister Naveen Patnaik reviewed the work of State Commerce and Transport department, a startling fact has come to notice: five out of eight toll plazas in Odisha are operating illegally.

These are Pipili, Sergarh (near Chandikhole), Manguli, Panikoili, Baraguda in Bargarh district.

All Odisha Private Bus Owners’ Association on Friday alleged that these toll gates violated the guidelines of National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), which regulates these units across the country.

“NHAI rules on toll gates say that there should not be any such gate within a 10-km radius of a municipality. Besides, a minimum distance of 60 km should be maintained between two toll gates. These five gates violate these rules and it is strange that NHAI has allowed these gates to be set up at these locations,” said Debendra Sahu, general secretary of the Association.

Even more suprisingly, these gates have been operating since 2009 and toll worth crores of rupees is being collected from each gate every year.

While admitting the gross violation of NHAI rules, Commerce and Transport minister Ramesh Majhi said that the Authority had been urged to review it.

“We have written to the NHAI to relocate these gates. It is yet to respond,” the minister said.

Majhi further clarified that collection of toll is not illegal but the locations should be changed.

Such a blatant violation of NHAI’s rules came to fore, after the Association threatened to go off roads when the department issued a notification earlier this month asking bus operators to pay an additional toll.

Though the minister held a meeting in this regard at the secretariat today, it remained ‘inconclusive’, claimed the Association.