Toll Hatao Sangharsh Samiti, a congregation of over 60 residents’ welfare associations (RWAs) from across the city and the first to take up cudgels against the toll plazas on the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway, has come out in support of the HT’s toll-removal campaign.
The citizens’ body has even circulated the mobile number (09227092270) and the message centre number (5424211) — floated by HT for registering public response — throughout the city over mobile phones.
The Delhi-Gurgaon expressway that was meant to be the symbol of a modern Gurgaon has fallen flat and the daily traffic chaos at its toll plazas is the one common factor in the lives of nearly all Gurgaon residents.
“It has affected business and industry in the city even as it is a hub of corporate activities. People are not able to reach their offices in time, while education suffers equally as children are not able to reach their institutions in time due to the bottlenecks at Sirhaul toll plaza. Life as we knew it before the toll plazas has been disrupted,” said Attar Singh Sandhu, general secretary of Toll Hatao Sangharsh Samiti (THSS).
THSS, formed in December 2011 to give voice to public anguish over the daily hardships caused by the plazas, has waged a battle against the toll system in courthouses and in the corridors of power in the state.
“Our main contention is that the toll plazas violate a number of rules pertaining to the subject. Once a municipal corporation is formed in a city, no toll collection can be allowed within a 10-km radius of the municipal limits. Moreover, two toll plazas are not allowed within 60 kilometres of each other,” said Colonel (retd) Kanwar Bhardwaj, chairman of THSS. Both the toll plazas — Sirhaul and Kherki Daula — fall within the municipal limits of Gurgaon and are located within 20 kilometres of each other.
RS Rathee, the vice-president of THSS, said, “It has been a long legal battle and we are ready for more if it comes to that. Even the police had to move the Punjab and Haryana High Court to get relief from the traffic problems created by the toll plazas. We also went to the Delhi high court and the issue is pending there.”
“There are three options now. One, we terminate the concessionaire contract and allot the project to another operator. Two, we acquire the project under force majeure clause for making it toll-free and three, we remove both the toll plazas and set up a new one near Bilaspur, out of the MCG limit,” said an official of National Highways Authority of India, which had awarded the project to the concessionaire, DGSCL.