The Bhartiya Kisan Union's (BKU) month-old “toll free” movement is going to cost the Uttar Pradesh government dear.
A month ago, the activists had captured the toll barrier of Western UP Tollway Ltd on National Highway 58 and declared it “free” for commuters. Thousands of vehicles have been plying without payment, causing an approximate loss of Rs. 25 lakh every day.
On Monday, vehicles passing through the Dasna toll plaza on National Highway-24 continued to enjoy a free ride for the second consecutive day as the talks between BKU representatives and the Ghaziabad administration failed.
Motorists had a toll-free ride on the 32-km stretch of the highway from Sunday after BKU activists stopped toll collection at the Dasna toll plaza. The activists staged a protest as mark of support to their leader Rakesh Tikait, who has been leading another protest against toll collection at Daurala on NH-58 in Meerut district for the past one month.
Earlier, Tikait visited Ghaziabad and presented a fresh memorandum of demands to the government officials on Monday. “The district administration and the national highway authority should present us the revenue documents pertaining to the Dasna toll plaza. The officials are concealing the actual amount of toll collected at the plaza,” Tikait said, adding that the union will intensify its stir in coming days if their demands are not met.
BKU alleged that the Dasna toll plaza was constructed illegally. The union said that the toll plaza should have been constructed 10km away from the municipal area. The union also demanded toll-free run at Dasna till a compromise was reached for the other toll gate at Meerut, the epicentre of the agitation.
“This is a nation-wide stir to free all toll plazas. We will move to DND on December 7. More agitation can be expected in other NCR areas. We also want 12 subsidised LPG cylinders in a year,” Tikait said.
Threatening that the agitation will continue till March, 2013, Tikait said that if any of his activists was removed from Dasna, other toll gates in the state will bear the brunt within two hours.
There are eight collection booths at the Dasna toll plaza. According to officials of the NHAI, it would suffer losses up to Rs, 4 lakh per day if the agitation continues.