“My father died of a heart attack at the Kherki Daula toll plaza as we got stuck in a traffic jam and couldn’t reach hospital in time,” said Birender Singh, a resident of Sikandarpur, remorsefully.
Like Singh, residents of 30 villages such as Sirhaul, Nathupur, Sikandarpur, Chakarpur, Narsinghpur, Mohammadpur, Begampur Khatola, Naharpur Rupa and Khandsa that fall along the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway are daily victims of the toll plaza mess.
Several villagers have now come out in support of the HT campaign for a toll-free Gurgaon and joined hands with citizen groups that have been demanding removal of the toll system for long. A group of nearly 65 residents gathered on NH-8 near Kherki Daula on Friday to meet a HT team and share their nightmarish experiences.
HT found that the Sirhaul and Kherki Daula toll plazas have emerged as a major cause of violence and frequent heated arguments between the expressway marshals, attendants and commuters.
Residents of Narsinghpur, Kherki Daula and Naharpur Rupa rue that to reach the nearest cremation ground, they have to cross National Highway-8 where they get stranded in toll plaza jams and are forced to wait for hours.
The government school of Begampur Khatola is across the expressway and children are compelled to risk their lives while crossing the dangerous stretch in the absence of facilities such as subways or footover bridges.
The list of problems is long. A fine of Rs 270 in case locals do not carry the toll exemption cards is another bone of contention and often leads to brawls.
“What is the point of having the toll system if it leads to fights, violence and hassles? We have every right to move around within the municipal limits as we pay taxes to the government,” said Charanjit Singh, a resident of Kherki Daula.
Residents of plush localities such as Lagoon Apartments (behind Ambience Mall), DLF Phase-3, Udyog Vihar, sectors 31, 10, 40, Patel Nagar and others are also irked with the toll plaza nuisance. “Gurgaon residents must be exempted from paying the toll. The authorities must either remove the toll plazas or set it up beyond the Gurgaon municipal limits,” said MN Chopra, RWA president, Lagoon Apartments.
A spokesperson of the operator, Delhi-Gurgaon Super Connectivity Limited, said, “We do not hassle local commuters if they carry the toll exemption cards. We just ask them to show us any proof of residence.”