Road parallel to National Highway closed down
Protest by various political parties against the closure of the parallel road to the National Highway 47 at Paliyekkara turned violent on Saturday.
The BOT company closed the U-turn near the toll plaza and the parallel road to the National Highway in the wee hours of Saturday with police protection. Now, vehicles cannot pass through the Mannuhty-Angamaly National Highway without paying the toll.
A single bench of the Kerala High Court had earlier given a verdict in favour of the BOT company which demanded closure of the parallel road to the toll plaza as many vehicles, including cars and goods carriers, used it to evade toll.
Attempt to close the parallel road last week was stopped due to public protest. Fearing public ire, the company with police protection blocked the road using huge iron beams early on Saturday morning.
Officials led by Additional District Magistrate P.K. Jayasree and Rural SP P.H. Asharaf were present. Now only two-wheelers and three-wheelers can use the parallel road.
Various political parties including CPI, CPI(M) and BJP took out marches to the Paliyekkara Toll Plaza on Saturday demanding rollback of the decision to collect toll from the motorists .
The police arrested 30-odd people as the protest march taken out by the CPI tuned violent. Later the Toll Viruddha Samyuktha Samara Samithi staged a dharna in font of the toll plaza.
Toll Viruddha Samyuktha Samara Samithi leader P.J. Monsy said the government and judiciary were helping the BOT company exploit the public.
“The single bench gave an order in favour of the company while eight cases were pending against the company in the division bench. Toll collection is blatant violation of freedom for movement assured by the Constitution,” he said.
The samithi said it would lay siege to the National Highway on Tuesday in protest against closure of the parallel road, he said.
According to a study conducted by the Kerala Sasthra Sahitya Parishad, the Guruvayur Infrastructural Private Limited (GIPL), the company in-charge of collection of toll at Paliyekkara on the Mannuthy-Angamaly stretch of National Highway 47, will collect Rs.6,000 crore in the stipulated period of 17.5 years.
“A day’s average collection at the Paliyekkara Toll plaza was around Rs.30 lakh. At this rate, the company will collect Rs.108 crore a year. Considering the increase in vehicle intensity, the collection of the company will touch Rs.6,000 crore in 17.5 years. But the expense for the company has been estimated as Rs.600 crore,” the study noted.
The Samara Samithi alleged that the BOT company had started collection of toll charges from motorists even before completing facilities including service roads, flyover, under pass, signal system, bus-bays, installation of streetlights and drainage system.