July 5, 2023 - PatialaPolitics


In a major relief to the people, the Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Wednesday closed the 10th toll plaza in the state on Moga-Kotakpura road near Chand Puraana, thereby saving Rs 44.43 lakh daily from the pocket of the common man.

Interacting with the media persons after closing Singhawala Toll Plaza, the Chief Minister said that people had to pay a hefty amount of Rs 44.43 lakh while crossing these 10 toll plazas. However, he said that with the closing of these 10 toll plazas people will be immensely benefited and get a major relief. Bhagwant Mann said that people crossing on Moga Kotakpura road had to pay Rs 4.68 lakh daily while crossing this Singhwala toll plaza but now their money will be saved.

The Chief Minister bemoaned that these toll plazas were in reality the shops for the open loot of the general public. He said that these tolls had plundered the public by flouting all the norms as per their agreement. However, Bhagwant Mann said that it is surprising that instead of taking action against them in larger public interests, the successive state governments had patronized this loot by keeping a blind eye towards their misdeeds.

The Chief Minister said that though the people had elected the governments for securing their interests but these power mad politicians shielded such defaulters just for their own vested interests. He said that the previous governments ignored the ambiguities of these erring toll plazas and allowed them to mint the money illegally without bothering the general public. Bhagwant Mann said that at none of the toll plazas, shut so far, the facility of ambulance or recovery van was visible despite provision for it in the agreement.

The Chief Minister said that the agreement of this toll plaza was signed on 25/09/2006 during the Captain government and the toll was imposed for 16.50 years. He said that the first overlay of road which was to be done by the company was delayed by 158 days after which a fine of Rs 2.48 crore was imposed on the company. However, Bhagwant Mann said that this fine was never recovered from the company by the government.

The Chief Minister further said that the toll could have been shut down on 10/11/2019 when the second overlay was not done and a fine worth Rs 3.89 crore was imposed on the erring company. He said that it was a violation of the agreement because as per it if the amount of fine exceeded Rs 3.11 crore then the contract could have been terminated. However, Bhagwant Mann said that it never happened and the people in power allowed the company to flout the norms.

The Chief Minister said that after assuming the charge of office, his government had started the process of freeing these toll plazas as per which these toll plazas have been closed. Coming down heavily on the Congress leaders for issuing misleading statements, he asked them to explain why these toll plazas were not stopped during their tenures. Bhagwant Mann said that as a fact of matter Congress had patronized this toll plaza due to which they never took action against erring toll companies adding that this is a not populist move but it is aimed at giving reprieve to the masses.

The Chief Minister said that the company was seeking an extension on the pretext of farmers agitation and Covid pandemic but his government has denied it. He said that 60 days prior notice needs to be given to the company due to which they have served the notice to the company and closed the toll plaza today. Bhagwant Mann said that this work should have been done earlier but none of his predecessors bothered to secure the interests of people adding that rather they worked zealously for protecting the rights of the companies managing the toll plaza.

The Chief Minister unequivocally said that every single penny plundered from people will be recovered from these people and the outstanding dues will be taken from them legally. He said that more such toll plazas will be freed in coming days to give respite to the people. Bhagwant Mann reiterated the firm commitment of the state government to ensure all round development of the state and prosperity of its people.