One more sop for Reddy brothers

The government is yet to implement proposal on levying road toll on trucks carrying iron ore

 
The proposal to levy road toll on trucks transporting iron ore, granite, wood, sand was scheduled to come into effect from December 1. But more than a week has passed and the government has shown no signs of introducing it.

The state government was aiming at collecting Rs 250 crore a year through the toll for spending on maintenance of roads damaged by the heavy cargo-laden trucks.

The proposal to levy the toll was one of the causes for the mining barons-turned politicians to rebel against Yeddyurappa, and nearly oust him from power, before the BJP central leadership intervened and brought about an armistice that allowed the Chief Minister to retain his chair while imposing humiliating conditions on him.

Yeddyurappa has already conceded five demands of the Reddy faction including transfer of IAS officers including V P Baligar, asking RDPR minister Shobha Karandlaje and inducting Speaker Jagadish Shettar into his Cabinet.

The State Cabinet on October 13 approved a proposal to introduce the levy varying from Rs 200 to Rs 1,000 per truck load depending on the cargo. The government’s rationale behind the toll was to make the truck owners pay for the damage the heavy vehicles caused to road. The proposal was strongly opposed by the Reddy brothers who  are into mining business, as it would have made cut their profit margins, although they defended their stand by declaring that the mining industry would contribute instead generously to flood relief.

Both the mining and transport industries were united in their opposition to the proposal, which was articulated forcefully by the Reddy brothers, and the trucking industry had warned of a strike from the day the toll came into force.

However, within a couple of days after the Cabinet approved the proposal, the Department of Public Works notified the Cabinet decision.

Further, the department initiated the process to identify the road network where the toll would be collected and notifying junctions where toll collection plazas could be set up. The Department had informed the media that the toll would come into effect from December 1.

With Finance department

N Lakshmanarao Peshwe, Secretary PWD said on Tuesday that the proposal was pending with the Finance Department. Asked how far the department had proceeded with setting up toll collecting plazas, Peshwe said the government had to clear the proposal.

Chief Minister Yeddyurappa, recently in a press conference, said that the government had not taken a final decision on implementing the proposal. The Reddy rebellion against him forced the CM to defer levying the toll. Although the Reddys refused to identify the toll proposal as one of the issues that led to their insurrection, it was identified as such by the  State BJP president Sadananda Gowda.

The truck owners’ association also claimed credit for government’s reluctance to impose the toll as of now. G R Shanmugappa, president of Federation of Lorry Owners’ Associations, said the government had not dared to impose the toll in the face of the federation threat to launch a state wide transport strike.

“Our threat to hold protest has succeeded in forcing the government change its decision.”

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