No toll relief, but firm tries to buy peace with farmers | india | Hindustan Times
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No toll relief, but firm tries to buy peace with farmers

india Updated: Aug 18, 2012 01:17 IST
Kapil Datta

Jaypee Infratech, the developer of Greater Noida-Agra Yamuna Expressway, on Friday made it clear that it won't extend tax exemption to farmers using the 165-km toll road.

However, it tried to buy peace with the agitators by offering a parallel service road for free connectivity, and several hospitals and schools. On expected lines, the farmers, protesting under the banner Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) outside the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA) office, said they will intensify their agitation.

These farmers have been claiming they were assured that no toll would be levied on those living along the expressway when their land for acquired for the project.

BKU representatives on Friday met YEIDA officers to find a solution.

BKU members like Ajay Pal Sharma, Ved Prakash Aggarwal, Choudhry Jeevan Singh, among others attended the meeting. From YEIDA, deputy chief executive officer (DCEO) PC Gupta and ACEO Harish Verma heard their pleas. Later in the afternoon, YEIDA CEO Rama Raman held a meeting with Jaypee officials.

At a press conference held in the evening, Rama Raman said, "The authority will construct a service road till Jewar and provide parallel connectivity to farmers so that they do not have to cross the expressway for visiting nearby villages.," he said.

"Through underpasses, they can cross over to the other side of the expressway and reach villages located there," the CEO added.

However, on the issue of exemption of toll tax for farmers, Jaypee Infratech MD Samir Gaur expressed helplessness. However, in an effort to mollify the agitated farmers, he mooted construction of several schools and hospitals.

He also said that to build a service road beyond Jewar in Aligarh, Mathura and Agra regions, talks would be held with farmers. He said if all goes well, land would be acquired for construction of service road.

Reacting to the development, BKU representative Ajay Pal Sharma told Hindustan Times, "Our agitation will not end till the time we are assured exemption from paying toll tax. We will now speed up our agitation."

"Like Haryana farmers, we too should be issued free passes with photo identity. The farmers using the Gurgaon expressway are offered one free to-and-fro trip per day. We do not want daily free trips. The authority can offer us monthly passes. The number of free trips could be settled with dialogue," said Sharma.

"Once the service road is thrown open, farmers will not have to use the expressway daily. We will be even happy with once a week free trip to Agra," said Sharma

"We do not want unrestricted free movement as it will be misused by the farmers. Only trip-based passes is the solution… Which I think should be acceptable to the company as well," he said. Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on August 9 inaugurated the much-awaited Greater Noida-Agra Yamuna Expressway. A car has to pay Rs. 320 for a one-way trip and Rs. 510 for a round trip. If a commuter undertakes 20 or more trips in a month, each single journey will cost Rs. 255.