The highway levy had been postponed over a month ago
Amidst raging protests, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is all set to collect toll from motorists using the Angamaly-Mannuthy stretch of NH 47, from Tuesday midnight.
People who reside in panchayats and corporation divisions situated within 10 kms of the Palliakkara toll plaza, have been exempted from the toll charges.
Two and three wheelers and vehicles of educational institutions too need not pay toll. The collection of toll had been postponed over a month ago following public protests and an attack on the toll plaza.
Residents living within 10 kms of the plaza who want exemption from the toll have to produce identification documents and RC book of vehicles, at the toll plaza.
The State government has directed the NHAI to construct service roads along the 28-km stretch. Seventeen more bus bays too have to be built in the Angamaly-Mannuthy stretch, to ensure smoother traffic flow; the Thrissur District Collector has been asked to speed up land acquisition.
Work is expected to begin soon on the underpasses at Puthukkad and Chalakudy junctions. Signal systems would be installed at the junctions till the underpasses are ready.
A pedestrian underpass would be set up at Perambra junction and a signal light system at Koratty junction. In view of the increasing number of accidents at Potta and Karayamparambu junctions, the State government has urged the Centre to sanction underpasses at the two junctions.
A senior NHAI official told The Hindu that 28 kms of service roads were not built initially since the consultant appointed by the agency, which prepared the detailed project report in 2005 to widen the NH, did not include it in the report.
He attributed the delay in building bus bays to a ban on acquiring land. The work on the bays would begin in another six months.
Reacting to complaints that the toll rates are unprecedented and exorbitant, he said the rates can be brought down if there is a toll plaza at Angamaly too. For this, the road near the plaza would have to be 100 metres' wide since there would have to be 12 lanes.
The total cost of widening the 40-km-long Angamaly-Mannuthy stretch was Rs. 312 crore.
The builder would have to maintain it and also the Edapally-Angamaly stretch for 17 years, during which period the toll would be collected from motorists.
There is incessant demand that the Edapally-Angamaly stretch be widened to six lane. This is because the existing road and allied infrastructure are unable to cater to the steep increase in the number of vehicles using the 25-km portion of the NH.
All the six flyovers in the Aluva-Mannuthy stretch are six-lane, considering the future need to widen the NH from four to six lane.
On the controversy surrounding the Aluva flyover, the NHAI official said that two-lane service roads would be provided on either side of the flyover.
There are differences of opinion on whether the flyover has been able to decongest Aluva town.