Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Saturday asked NHAI Chairman and toll operators across National Highways to provide food, water and other necessary support to migrant workers .
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The directions came amid reports that migrant workers are facing severe hardships while stranded at various parts of the country on account of a nationwide lockdown in the wake of coronavirus ( COVID-19 ) pandemic.
“I have advised Chairman NHAI and Highway Concessioners/Toll operators to consider providing food, water or any kind of support to migrant workers/citizens who are trying to reach to their respective native places. At this time of crisis we have to be compassionate for our fellow citizens,” Road Transport and Highways Minister Gadkari said.
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The Minister expressed hope that toll operators will respond to his call positively. Earlier, Mr. Gadkari had asked NHAI to suspend toll on all National Highways to ease transportation of essential goods and supplies.
The suspension of toll collection on National Highways will ease supplies of essential goods across the country while facilitating movement of patients and needy people who have obtained curfew passes, Mr. Gadkari had said.
Urging people to adhere to the nationwide lockdown, the Minister has said suspension of toll is for people who have to venture out for necessary travel.
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“Even though it’s a complete lockdown all over the country, there are provisions to issue necessary passes/permissions for those people who approach the relevant authorities and convince their necessities to travel,” he had said.
Such passes are being issued by local authorities so that the needy people can travel, he added.
“Suspension of toll collection is for such people who travel in private vehicles. This will ease their journey without wasting time at the toll plaza. Toll collection has been suspended to reduce inconvenience to such people who have been issued curfew pass by local administration/authorities for all vehicles transporting essential goods and even the vehicles carrying patients,” the Minister said.
At the same time, he urged people to stay indoors and follow advice of local authorities to fight the spread of coronavirus.
The government earlier this week temporarily suspended toll collection on National Highways to ease emergency services in view of the coronavirus outbreak.
This will not only reduce inconvenience to emergency services but also save critical time, Mr. Gadkari had said.
Maintenance of roads and availability of emergency resources at toll plazas will continue as usual.
Earlier, the Road Transport and Highways Ministry had advised the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to follow the Home Ministry’s guidelines about toll plaza operations following the lockdown in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
The prevailing condition may be treated as “Force Majeure” of concession or contract agreement in terms of the Finance Ministry, it said.