Private transporters begin indefinite strike against new toll plaza in Samba

JAMMU: Commuters faced hardships on Monday as hundreds of private passenger vehicles went on an indefinite strike against the newly set up toll plaza at Sarore along the Jammu-Pathankot highway in Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir.

The transporters also staged a protest at general bus stand here and threatened 'chakka jam' in the entire Jammu if their demand for abolishment of the toll plaza was not met immediately.

The toll plaza at Sarore was inaugurated by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) on October 11, drawing a strong reaction from the people from all sections of the society and political parties including the BJP which had written a two-page letter to the Union transport ministry seeking abolishment of the toll plaza.

"All the private operators plying their vehicles on Kathua-Jammu route suspended indefinitely their operations from Monday.

"We are being charged Rs 225 for a single side crossing. We are not in a position to pay toll tax given the increase in insurance, permit, fine on traffic violation and fuel prices," president Bus Union Kuldeep Singh told reporters while leading a demonstration at the bus stand.

He alleged that the drivers and conductors were being abused and harassed by the toll plaza contractor and his staff.

"If the toll plaza was not abolished immediately, we will go for chakka jam across the Jammu region," Singh said seeking intervention of Governor Satya Pal Malik in the matter.

Vijaypur Matador Association and Kathua Bus Service Association also staged a protest in Samba and Kathua districts against the setting up of toll plaza and demanded its immediate abolishment.

Activists of the National Panthers Party (NPP) led by party chairman and former minister Harsh Dev Singh also staged a demonstration at Exhibition Ground in the city and raised slogans against the BJP and the NHAI for setting up the toll plaza in violation of the rules.

"It was the saffron party which in opposition vociferously opposed the installation of the toll plaza and vandalised the structure at the proposed site near Sarore on the pretext of 'jazia' levied upon the people of Jammu.

"Is this a new form of 'kesari jazia' imposed on us by you after forming the government at the Centre? Is this the reason the people have overwhelmingly mandated you for trampling their aspirations?" Singh asked.

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PTI