The vegetable growers of Devanahalli and surrounding villages, who are among the main suppliers of vegetables to the city, are a worried lot. The nearly four-fold increase in the toll has seriously disturbed their fragile economics.
The toll at Sadahalli gate for a tempo has gone up from Rs. 50 for two-way travel within 24 hours to Rs. 175.
Manjunath, who grows carrot and beetroot on the outskirts of Devanahalli, said that tempo operators are charging Rs. 30 for each sack of vegetables. After the hike, they are demanding at least Rs. 40.
Though transport cost has increased, vegetable prices cannot be raised as the problem is specific to vehicles using NH7. “If we increase prices, we will lose out to the competition. If we don’t, we lose on our margins and risk losses,” he explained.
Even vehicle owners are a worried lot. Srikanth, who runs a tempo in Devanahalli town, said, “Asking the farmers to pay more is difficult. Their trade will become unprofitable. Even now, we know that they sell their produce at dirt cheap rates.”
But farmers fear that eventually they will be forced to bear the burden.
“The toll for a longer stretch on Tumkur Road is Rs. 17 as compared to the Rs. 175 we will have to pay for using about 22 km of the airport road,” Basavaraju, a vegetable trader rued.
Vinay Kumar, a tempo operator, said that at least vehicles carrying vegetables, fruits and milk from surrounding villages should be exempt from toll. He also urged that a toll-free service road be provided immediately.
Tempo operators and farmers say that using alternative routes are not feasible. “We have two alternate routes. One is through K.R. Puram and the other through I.V.C. Road and Rajanukunte. Both are longer and will increase fuel cost,” Manjunath said.