Thrissur: High drama prevailed at the Paliyekkara toll plaza here on Tuesday night when the operator of the Mannuthy-Edapally stretch of the National Highway-47 imposed a sudden hike in toll rates. But the new rates were withdrawn a few hours later in the face of growing public protest.
The drama unfolded at 12 midnight with the Guruvayur Infrastructure Private Limited (GIPL) charging additional rates ranging from Rs 5 to Rs 30 per vehicle. Following this, various youth organisations laid a siege to the plaza and disrupted its operations.
The issue was resolved on Wednesday morning with the road operator announcing a reversal of rates. Later, it also held a meeting with P.C. Chacko MP and the Highway Authority officials.
Chacko said that the move to raise the toll rates amounted to violation of an assurance from the Union Government that there would not be any change in the toll rates till the stretch between Mannuthy and Edappally was repaired. "We will not allow any move to hike the toll rates without prior consent from the Chief Minister,’’ he stated.
Meanwhile, an official of the GIPL claimed that there was no connection between repairing the road and hiking the toll rate. "The revision of rates was based on the proportionate rise in overall price index. It has nothing to do with the repair or maintenance of the road,’’ he said.
The Highway Authority also sought to back the GIPL by saying that the road operator was eligible for a rate hike from September 1 onwards. We have not received any direction from our headquarters or the ministry with regard to shelving the proposal to revise the toll rates at Paliyekkara,’’ said Mr P.Ramanathan, Project Director, NHAI.