Two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Bengaluru-Mysuru Expressway, several outfits staged protests at a toll plaza near here on Tuesday, opposing the National Highways Authority of India’s (NHAI) decision to levy charges without proper service roads and passes for local residents.
Opposition Congress workers too joined the protesters and held demonstrations.
The protesters are opposed to collecting toll fees until the entire project is completed. They have also expressed reservations regarding service roads not being built, and the toll rate fixed being too high.
Amid heavy presence of police personnel, protesters shouted slogans demanding justice and also criticised the government, while some even threatened to destroy the toll plaza altogether. Several protesters were detained by the police.
Being the first day of toll collection, some technical glitches also added to the chaos, making commuters wait for a long time, due to congestion.
Many cab drivers, who commute on the stretch daily, hit out at NHAI authorities for mismanagement, charging high toll fees for short distances, and no proper service road.
“I’m going for 20 kilometres on this stretch, for which I have to pay Rs 147, where should we go? If there was a proper service road, I wouldn’t have come here, how should I go?” a taxi driver asked.
Another car driver heading towards Ramanagara, alleged that locals have not been issued any passes. “This is not right, locals are facing the problems.” Speaking in Bengaluru, Karnataka Congress President D K Shivakumar said it was not right for the Prime Minister to have inaugurated the Expressway, without the completion of the project and having no proper service roads to help local residents.
“It was done for the sake of politics ahead of elections and not for the sake of people,” he asserted.
Later in the evening, Shivakumar tweeted: “I have seen on TV and newspapers since morning about people expressing outrage near the toll centre on the Bengaluru-Mysuru Expressway. Today, I too had an experience while travelling from Bidadi to Ramanagara. To go from Bidadi to Ramanagara, I had to pay a toll of Rs 135, they have charged Rs 270 in the pretext of a problem with the FASTag scanner.” On March 12, Prime Minister Modi inaugurated the 118-km Bengaluru-Mysuru Expressway project here. It will reduce the travel time between Bengaluru and Mysuru from around three hours to about 75 minutes, according to officials.
The Rs 8,480 crore project involved six-laning of the Bengaluru-Nidaghatta-Mysuru section of NH-275, and will act as a catalyst for socio-economic development in the region, they said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)