HC rejects transporters' plea to stay levy on toll on lorries

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The government on July 1, 2010, had passed an order levying a toll of Rs 500 per vehicle for every trip, for carrying more than 16 tonnes of consignment, excluding vehicles carrying machinery, irrespective of axle weight limit.

Sesa Goa and other mining companies and several transport companies have challenged the levy of toll contending that it was contrary to the provisions of the Karnataka Highways Act, 1964 and the Karnataka Highway Rules, 1965. They alleged that there was no rationale or logic behind the government order.

The petitioners said the government does not have powers or jurisdiction to pass such orders.

However, the State said it was empowered to collect toll under Section 48A of the Karnataka Highways Act, 1964, read with Section 17A of the Karnataka Motor Vehicles Taxation Act, 1957.

The State submitted that many of the lorries which could carry only 10 tonnes of weight were overloaded, destroying the roads and damaging the environment. The State was forced to carry out repair work often, causing tremendous inconvenience to the public.

Justice B S Patil observed that it was the right of the government to consider the needs of the public and rejected the interim stay. The Court directed that only the main prayer seeking the quashing of the government order would be heard.

Stay on hydel project

The High Court has stayed commencement of work on a mini-hydel plant in the Western Ghats.

The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice A S Bopanna granted the interim order, while hearing a petition by the Western Ghats Environmental Forum. As a result, about 70 mini hydel projects operating in Bisle, Naravi, Balur, Shiradi-Shishla, Kerti, Kabbinale, Kemphole and other ecologically important reserved forests will come to a standstill.

The petitioners had contended that the sanctioning of the projects would affect the flora and fauna. It would adversely affect supply of drinking water and irrigation as well, they submitted.

Citing the recent discovery of 14 new species of frogs in the Ghats, they argued that it would be foolish to endanger the species even before their discovery.
Incidences of human-elephant conflicts were high in Hassan district where such plants were set up, they said.

 

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