Toll collection on National Highway 7 leading to Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) resumed on Saturday morning with the city police providing protection to the toll plaza.
Navayuga Devanahalli Tollway Pvt. Ltd. (NDTPL), which is authorised by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to collect toll, had approached the Karnataka High Court seeking protection for the toll plaza.
Toll collection, which started earlier this year, was stopped after agitations by taxi operators. The Devanahalli civil court stayed the toll collection in April following pleas by some advocates.
The NHAI, which has entrusted the project of upgrading a 23-km stretch of the highway and building an elevated road on this stretch to NDTPL, got relief on August 30 when the High Court vacated the stay.
After the High Court’s order, NDTPL, which is executing the project at a cost of nearly Rs. 880 crore under design, build, finance, operate and transfer basis, approached the city police seeking protection, citing previous instances of protests against toll collection.
The final adjudication on the legality of toll collection, however, is pending before the courts. Since it did not get a response from the Home Department or the city police, NDTPL approached the High Court seeking protection while pointing out that it was unable to exercise its right to collect toll, which, it said, would be close to Rs. 10 lakh a day. The State government is bound to provide security as per its agreement with the NHAI, it said.
When the petition came up for hearing before Justice Mohan Shantanagoudar on Saturday, counsel for NDTPL as well as counsel for the State government said the police had provided security to the toll plaza from 7.30 a.m. on Saturday. The State government’s counsel also informed the court that police protection would continue for some more time.
Meanwhile, Srinivas, toll manager of NDTPL, said that around 200 police personnel had been deployed around the toll plaza.
Though the toll plaza is situated just before the road to the airport on NH 7 from the city side, toll is being collected when vehicles exit the airport.
When contacted, general secretary of the Bangalore Tourist Taxi Owners’ Association Radhakrishna Holla said taxi drivers would find it taxing to pay the toll in addition to the parking fee at the airport, which is about Rs. 70 for two hours. He said the taxi operators cannot transfer the burden of the toll onto customers.