Meeting today to evolve consensus on Ponnurunni ROB toll

The resumption of toll collection at the recently opened rail overbridge at Ponnurunni had to be suspended yet again because of strident protests by political outfits on Wednesday.

The collection had to be suspended within a few hours after it began around 7.30 a.m. Activists of political organisations laid siege to the toll booth. Representatives of the Roads and Bridges Development Corporation of Kerala Limited (RBDCK) were present at the toll booth.

The protests were spearheaded by CPI-affiliated All India Youth Federation and CPI(M)’s Democratic Youth Federation of India.

The protestors took up the issue of toll collection with the higher officials of RBDCK and the Kochi Corporation Mayor over phone before the toll collection eventually came to a halt around 10 a.m. Mayor has convened a meeting of political parties and other stakeholders at the Corporation office on Thursday at 2.30 p.m.

RBDCK sources said toll collection would resume after evolving a consensus at Thursday’s meeting.

Toll collection has been a bone of contention ever since the bridge was opened in February.

The initial attempt to collect tax also had to be dropped owing to stiff protest from political organisations.

RBDCK embarked up on a second attempt saying it has to repay bank loan taken for the construction of the bridge.

The agency’s offer to issue passes to local people in selected areas also has failed to cut ice with the protestors. Decision on the demand to waive toll ultimately depends on the State government. Of the Rs. 25.31 crore spent on constructing the bridge, the railway was expected to give Rs.10 crore, while Rs.8 crore was to be raised by Kochi Corporation via JNNURM funds, leaving RBDCK to recoup its share of Rs.7.31 crore through toll or other means with the help of government.

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