Surathkal-Hejamadi toll merger: Proposal pending

The proposal by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to merge the Surathkal toll with that at Hejamadi has been postponed by authorities.

The contract to collect toll at the Surathkal plaza ended on November 1.

Following a public outcry against toll collection at Surathkal, the NHAI had promised to merge the Hejamadi and Surathkal tolls.

In a turnaround, however, tenders have been floated inviting contractors to collect toll at the Surathkal toll plaza.

According to sources, an amount of Rs 181.5 crore was spent on four-laning the stretch from Surathkal to B C Road, under the Centre’s port linking project. Accordingly, toll plazas were built in Surathkal and Brahmarakootlu to recover the money invested on road development.

The distance between the toll plazas at Surathkal and Hejamadi on NH 66 is less than 10 km. The NH guidelines insist that the distance between two toll plazas should be 40 km. Further, the toll at Surathkal is situated within the Mangaluru City Corporation jurisdiction.

Keeping all these factors in mind, the Surathkal Toll Virodhi Horata Samiti had staged protests in the past, demanding the closure of the toll.

Following such pressure from the local residents, the NHAI had proposed to merge the Surathkal toll plaza with that at Hejamadi. The proposal was also approved by the state government on January 3, 2018.

The government had also directed the officials to complete the process of toll merger within a time frame. Even after 22 months, the merger proposal has not been implemented.

Shishu Mohan, project director, NHAI, said, “The decision to merge the Surathkal toll plaza with the Hejamadi toll cannot be taken locally. The proposal has reached the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways through the NHAI headquarters. The decision of the Ministry will be implemented.”

With the contract to collect toll at Surathkal ending, the NHAI has initiated the tender process. The contractor to collect toll will be appointed shortly. Toll collection at Surathkal will be continued, sources said.

Surathkal Toll Virodhi Horata Samiti convener Muneer Katipalla said, “Toll is collected illegally for the last five years by availing of temporary permits.”

Speaking further, he said that MP Nalin Kumar Kateel had failed to fulfil promises made to the people. “If the contract to collect toll is renewed, then we will initiate a fight against the move,” Katipalla warned.

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