New Delhi: Rajya Sabha MP and cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar today wrote a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis highlighting grievances being faced by common citizens over toll tax.
He urged the Chief Minister to take effective measures to ensure that toll plazas do not cause menace for people.
It should be noted that issue of toll-plaza is not related to a state only. Be it Maharashtra or national capital New Delhi, time and again public have expressed their anger over needless collection of money.
The issue has been also politicised on many occasions with several political outfits and leaders coming out in support of people and sometime even resulting into vandalising and attacking staff to at plaza to register their strong protest.
Starting from Maharashtra... In June 2014, the erstwhile government in the state had announced closure of 44 toll plazas, a move that came in the backdrop of protests over levy of road tax in the state.
In February last year, Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) had launched a state-wide stir on the toll issue, which had turned violent. The protests had begun at Kolhapur where toll plazas were ransacked and burned.
Notably, while campaigning for the assembly polls, the BJP had promised to abolish toll on the state's roads.
Recently, the BJP led government faced strong protests from citizens over a new toll collection plaza in Navi Mumbai on the Sion-Panvel highway earlier in January this year. In February, MNS workers vandalised the toll plaza as they had opposed the opening of the particular toll plaza.
Last year itself, robbers had attacked a family on Mumbai-Pune Expressway near a tool plaza.
Frequent attacks on toll plazas and staff have always resulted into severe traffic jam.
In Delhi, the toll plaza at the Delhi-Gurgaon border was finally shut down in February last year after Delhi High Court's intervention. It was really a crazy place for daily commuters who have had to wait in long queues to cross the border.
The DND Flyway, which connects Delhi to Noida, is an eight-laned 9.2 km road. It was built and is maintained by The Noida Toll Bridge Company Ltd. Commuters on the DND often caught in a massive traffic jam during pick hours.
Staff at toll plazas in Bihar and Jharkhand are attacked by Maoists. Heavily-armed naxals ransack and loot toll plazas.
In Uttar Pradesh, Samajwadi Party workers last year went on a rampage at a toll plaza on the Lucknow-Faizabad highway. This after a toll booth attendant asked them to pay money for using the highway.
CCTV footage accessed showed the party workers brutally attacking the toll booth worker with rifle butts.
This not the only incident related to attack on toll plaza in the state. In November 2014, Samajwadi Party MLA supporters thrashed a toll plaza employee in Barabanki district. Supporters of an SP leader roughed up toll booth staff for stopping MLA Abhay Singh for driving in the wrong lane.
In 2012, the then Congress MP Porbandar, Vitthal Radadiya, had brandished his gun at the toll booth operators on a highway near Vadodara, whose only fault was to ask the MP to show his identity card.
There are several toll plazas functioning illegally across the country. In February 2015, Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari had announced government's decision to scrap 125 toll plazas on some of the nation's roads. The government had identified projects where toll collection had become unviable or the cost had been recovered.