BJP MLC A.H.Vishwanath staged a symbolic protest in Mysuru on March 17 saying the toll fixed for using the Bengaluru-Mysuru expressway is exorbitant.
The expressway was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 12.
Mr.Vishwanath, along with his supporters, sat on a dharna near Manipal Hospital and Outer Ring Road junction from where the expressway commences, and launched a diatribe against the Karnataka government. The NHAI began collecting the toll for the stretch between Bengaluru and Nidaghatta from March 14, which triggered vehement protests in Bengaluru.
Mr.Vishwanath dubbed the alignment and the construction of the expressway as ‘’unscientific’’ and claimed that it posed a danger to the motorists as more than 90 people had lost their lives even before its inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week.
The protest is an attempt to bring the ordeal being suffered by the public to the knowledge of the government, said Mr. Vishwanath.
The earlier four-lane highway taken up when S.M. Krishna was the chief minister, could have been broadened by laying another lane. But instead the government has spent nearly ‘’₹12000 crore’’ for the expressway and was now imposing a steep toll on the public, said Mr. Vishwanath and described it as ‘’day light robbery’’. The toll being levied for the stretch from Bengaluru to Nidaghatta is ₹135 for cars and ₹205 for same-day return. The collection of toll for the stretch from Nidaghatta to Mysuru is yet to commence.
Questioning the rationale for collecting toll on highways, Mr.Vishwanath said lifetime tax is levied on purchase of every vehicle while there was additional cess or tax by both the State and the Centre on fuel, which, he said, should be utilized for road infrastructure. He called for discussions with stakeholders and completion of the service roads before fixing a rate and levying the toll.
The MLC said the expressway has impeded the movement of farmers who have to take a detour of a few km to reach the other side of their fields and was a testimony to the problems being created by the infrastructure. There was nothing to be proud of in terms of quality, said Mr. Vishwanath and questioned whether experts were consulted in designing the road.