Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) missionary workers staged a protest at Ladhowal toll plaza on National Highway-1 on Thursday, demanding removal of toll barriers. The protestors blocked the traffic at the national highway.
The protestors have alleged that the six-lane project from Panipat to Jalandhar had been lying incomplete and the Sutlej Bridge was in shoddy condition. They said that the toll barrier was charging toll tax from them, while the private buses crossed the barrier without paying any tax.
Ramajit Lalli, who led the protesters, said, “Despite the Sutlej Bridge, the flyover projects and roads are in pathetic conditions. People are being charged toll tax for traveling on the national highway.
He added that the protestors had stopped the private buses, reportedly owned by close aide of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, and asked the driver to show the receipt of the tax.
Lalli said the bus staff replied that they did not pay the tax as the company owners had links with the government.
National Highway Authorities of India (NHAI) managers Dinesh Kumar and Kailash Sharma, while talking to the mediapersons accepted that buses of 40 private companies crossed the barrier without paying the taxes.
They said, “Whenever we asked these bus drivers to pay the tax, they threatened us. Multiple complaints have been made at Ladhowal police station, but no action has been taken.”
“Except buses, there are several police officials, who do not pay the tax,” the officials said, adding that about 1,100 buses crossed the barrier daily, out of which 25% had passes and other crossed it without paying the tax.
He said the tax barrier incurred loss of Rs. 6.5 lakh daily due to it.
Assistant commissioner of police (rural) (ACP) Gupreet Singh said the police have arranged a meeting of the protestors with the higher authorities of NHAI.
He added that the police was also investigating into the complaints of buses crossing the toll plaza without paying the tax.