Motorist alleges harassment by Kumbalam toll plaza staff

The NHAI’s toll plaza at Kumbalam in Kochi.   | Photo Credit: VIBHU H

The Ernakulam District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has served notice on the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the contracting firm entrusted with the operation, maintenance, and tolling (OMT) for the Edappally-Aroor NH 66 Bypass after a motorist complained of harassment at the toll plaza.

According to the complaint filed by a lawyer, the staff at the NHAI’s Kumbalam toll plaza detained him and his family members who were travelling by car and threatened them, despite adequate balance in his FASTag account to deduct toll.

Even worse, the staff let the family, including his wife and two children, to leave only after they paid double the toll amount. This despite the fact that the complainant, Russel S. of Poonithura, a lawyer and Assistant Professor at the Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat), produced proof of ₹40 having been debited from his FASTag wallet on January 17 morning, and there being a balance of ₹315 in the account.

He filed a complaint before the commission, seeking a compensation of ₹1 lakh, arraying the NHAI Chief General Manager (Nodal Officer for Public Grievances), managing director of Kochi-Aroor Tollways Pvt. Ltd, and the manager of the Kumbalam Toll Plaza, as opposite parties.

After examining the complaint, the District Consumer Commission presided by D.B. Binu directed officials of the NHAI, the OMT firm, and the toll plaza manager to present themselves before the commission on October 28 to explain their stance.

In his complaint, Adv. Russel mentioned that the toll plaza staff had shouted at him in front of his wife and children and those who had gathered on seeing the commotion, all through the 10 minutes that they were detained at the plaza. It caused much inconvenience and agony to him, his family members, and other passengers.

“Within an hour, the toll amount was found deducted by the NHAI from the same wallet. This shows there was adequate balance in the wallet. The attitude of the toll plaza employees was very adamant and against the very purpose for which the NHAI was constituted—to ensure the comfort and convenience of motorists and pedestrians. Moreover, the NHAI and others did not respond to a legal notice that I issued in February, stating my grievance and seeking ₹1 lakh compensation for the agony and inconvenience caused to me and my family members. All this amounted to deficiency in service,” Adv. Russel said.

It was less than a month ago that Thripunithura MLA K. Babu narrated his ordeal at the toll plaza after after a boom barrier fell atop his car, causing damage.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 5:39:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/motorist-alleges-harassment-by-kumbalam-toll-plaza-staff/article36642728.ece

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