The present location is in violation of NHAI rules, say MPs

After two bouts of scuffle on the four-lane highway toll plaza at Kappalur, the Madurai district administration has asked the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to re-locate it at a suitable place in accordance with the NHAI rules.

The residents of Tirumangalam have been vehemently opposing collection of toll on the road claiming that they used only the service road and not the four-lane highway to reach Madurai. The tourist van operators said it was an economically unviable for them to pay the toll for operating their vehicles between Tirumangalam and Madurai.

A Struggle Committee against Tirumangalam Toll Plaza was floated to fight against the “unilateral” decision of NHAI to locate the plaza in between Tirumangalam and Madurai. At least on two occasions, scuffles ensued after wordy quarrel between the road users of Tirumangalam and those manning the toll plaza, leading to police and revenue officials’ intervention.

With mounting tension, the Congress MPs, B. Manicka Tagore (Virudhunagar) under whose constituency the plaza falls and N.S.V. Chitthan (Dindigul) also raised their objections to the location of the plaza.

At a recently conducted meeting of the NHAI officials and the contractor, the MPs told the Collector, Anshul Mishra, the location of the plaza was in violation of the NHAI rules.

“The plaza should be located 10 km away from the municipal boundary. But, it has been placed just 1.5 km away from Tirumangalam municipality. It is a gross violation and we have registered our displeasure on the issue. Collector Anshul Mishra has promised to write to the NHAI to re-locate it elsewhere,” Mr. Tagore said.

“Apparently, there is violation of the NHAI rules on the location of plaza. We will write to the NHAI to shift it at a suitable place, considering the law and order problem,” the Collector said.

Committee coordinator P.K. Vembuvendan said the four-lane road was laid for Samayanallur to Virudhunagar stretch of Madurai-Kanyakumari highway. “While the four-lane road was for the Madurai-Kanyakumari road users, the plaza was located at a such place wherein the people using the Cochin-Madurai highway, Shencottah-Madurai highway were forced to pay the toll,” he said.

These two highways were joining only at Tirumangalam, and the road users could reach Madurai without using the four-way road, he said. Stating that the NHAI had originally planned to have the plaza at Melakottai, he said it was changed to Kappalur only with a profit motive that was unjust.

After the MPs insisted that the people of Tirumangalam, with vehicles registered with Tirumangalam Regional Transport Office, should not be levied toll till the plaza was shifted, no toll was being collected for them since Friday, Mr. Vembuvendan said.

More In: Madurai