The members of a traders’ association in Ghaziabad blocked the 10-lane Dasna toll plaza on Tuesday morning and lifted the boom barriers, allowing free vehicular movement for over an hour. The group is demanding the removal of the toll plaza located at Dasna on NH-24 to allow free movement of vehicles between Ghaziabad and Hapur.
Scores of members from the ‘Sanyukt Vyapar Mandal’ gathered at the toll plaza on Tuesday morning and staged a protest, demanding the facility be made toll-free for commuters. They said the toll road, having 10 lanes, was operational for more than 15 years and has already recovered its cost.
“So many years have passed but the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is still charging a toll from commuters. We have demanded that the toll be scrapped and the details of investment and the cost recovered so far be made public. The facility should have become toll free by now,” said Ashok Bhartiya, chairman of the association.
“Apart from recovery of charges, the toll has no facility for first-aid and even drinking water. The bouncers at the facility also misbehave with motorists,” said Rakesh Sharma, another member.
The protesters also made the stretch toll-free for more than an hour. A large contingent of police force arrived from neighbouring police stations, including Masuri, to bring the situation under control. The protesters later handed over a memorandum to the police and NHAI officials and said they will resort to a protest again if the toll is not made free by August 15.
On the other hand, the officials of NHAI said that the toll has been allotted in “perpetuity” and the rate comes down to 40% once the investment is recovered.
“The recovery in this case will not be possible as the facility is proposed to move to a new location in Nizampur (Hapur bypass) in another year as part of the proposed NH-24 widening (Dasna to Hapur). The balance investment, of around Rs 90 crore, will now be added to the new project cost as it will have more lanes and requires more land acquisition. As per estimates, the toll incurred an investment of around Rs 184 crore,” said RP Singh, project director, NHAI.
The officials said they had proposed new lanes at the new facility after it is shifted to Nizampur but senior officials want 24 lanes to allow more traffic in a smooth manner. The widening of Dasna to Hapur stretch is estimated to cost around Rs 1,400 crore, including the cost of the new toll plaza at Nizampur.