Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, made a significant announcement on 22 March 2022 during a session of the Lok Sabha. He stated that there will only be one toll plaza for every 60 kilometers on national highways, in adherence to the National Highways Fee (Determination of Rates and Collection) Rules, 2008.
Interestingly, last year a RTI report revealed that there are 189 toll gates in India violates the NHAI 60-Kilometre rule, which was also acknowledged by the Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari and he has also stated in the Lok Sabha that all toll collecting points on the National highways, which are within 60km of each other, will be closed in the next three months.
Meanwhile, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Assam unit on Monday claimed to have received a new RTI petition that includes the Toll tax collected from the toll gates of Assam.
“In the RTI reply from National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), where it has been came to our notice that for the year 2022, Galia toll gate collected Rs 33.14 crores, Madanpur toll gate collected Rs 108.91 crores, Nazirakhat toll gate collected Rs 81.32 crores, Mikirati Hawgaon toll gate collected Rs 25.88 crores, looting a total of Rs 249.25 crores in the name of toll tax from these 4 illegal toll gates,” Jayanta Kumar Kalita, State Media Coordinator, Aam Aadmi Party Assam said in a press statement.
Despite the declaration of Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari in the parliament, these four tollgates were not closed and have continued to collect (loot) a total of Rs 249.25 crores in the name of toll tax in the last year 2022, alleged AAP Assam.
“Not only this, the aforementioned tollgates illegal toll plazas have collected Rs 234.77 crores in total since their commissioning till February, 2022,” Jayanta Kumar Kalita added in the statement.
AAP Assam demanded reimbursement of these unlawfully collected taxes (looting a total of Rs 249.25 crores in the name of toll tax from these 4 illegal toll gates in the year 2022 and Rs 234.77 crores in total since their commissioning till February,2022) and the immediate closure of these illegal toll plazas (Galia toll gate, Madanpur toll gate, Nazirakhat toll gate and Mikirati Hawgaon toll gate).
Immediate Actions Required:
1. Reimbursement of Illegal Tax: The state & national authorities are urged to take prompt and decisive action to reimburse the illegally collected taxes to all the concerned taxpayers/citizens.
2. Closure of Illegal Tollgates: To prevent further unauthorized tax collection, it is imperative that the four tollgates declared unlawful by Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways in the Parliament are immediately and permanently need to be closed.
3. Compliance with National Regulations: The recent announcement by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari reinforces the need for strict adherence to national regulations governing toll plaza spacing.
4. Public Awareness: An extensive awareness campaign is necessary to inform citizens about their rights and obligations concerning toll taxes, and to keep them informed about the actions being taken to rectify the situation.
It also added that the citizens of Assam deserve a toll collection system that is lawful, transparent, and accountable.
“In AAP governed state of Punjab, 10 toll plazas closed in 17 months of AAP govt. It is the responsibility of the state authorities also to ensure that citizens are not subjected to unauthorized financial burdens,” Kalita added further.