Bandh call against toll collection total

Bandh call against toll collection total

Public take out a protest rally against toll collection in Belmannu on Thursday.

The bandh call against the toll collection was total with good response from public in Belmannu on Karkala-Padubidri state highway on Thursday.

The agitators called the state government’s decision not to exempt local residents from paying toll as total injustice and unscientific.

Toll Gate Action Committee Convener N Suhas Hegde said the government’s decision had landed residents of over 40 villages in distress. The residents, who use the state highway for their day-to-day work, are forced to pay the toll nearly half a dozen times.

He charged that the district administration had turned stone-deaf to the grievances of residents in Belmannu.

“The government is adopting new strategies to fill up its empty treasury and thus punishing the innocent public.”

He ridiculed government for laying as many as 37 road humps (speed breakers) on a 27-km stretch. These many humps will not be seen anywhere in the country, he mocked.

Kemaru Mutt Seer Eshavittala Swami declared that the undivided Dakshina Kannada (DK) should be made toll-free. “Toll collection across the coastal districts should be stopped immediately. There is a need for united fight until the government concedes to our demands.”

He also condemned government’s attitude to establish all new hazardous industries in both Udupi and DK districts.

“The government is treating both the districts as dustbins. The locals are forced to consume the toxic smoke and there are no employment opportunities for local people,” Swami said.

He urged public to picket Deputy Commissioner’s office in Manipal in order to make officials understand the gravity of public fury.

Udupi Zilla panchayat (ZP) member Reshma Udaykumar Shetty questioned the need to build a toll plaza, four years after the completion of the road.  

The officials are unaware about the difficulties faced by the villagers in the area, she said.

During the protest rally, Udupi Additional Deputy Commissioner Vidya Kumari arrived at the spot and received the memorandum. She promised to hand over the memorandum to chief minister. The deputy commissioner also spoke to PWD chief secretary, she said.

The protesters blocking the state highway were detained by police, who later released them. Shops, colleges and schools remained closed. Buses and auto rickshaws remained off the road.

Member of Legislative Council Ivan D’Souza, who raised the Belmannu toll issue in zero hour in Legislative Council in Belagavi recently, had urged government to close down all toll plazas in coastal districts that were not working as per the guidelines. The toll plazas had turned into ‘Goondagiri centres,’ he said.