Srinagar: Expressing dismay over the imposition of toll tax by National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) on Srinagar-Jammu national highway, Jammu and Kashmir Socio-Economic Coordination Committee (JKSECC) termed the tax as ‘illegal and unconstitutional’.
Since the toll plaza was made operational on Tuesday near Sangam on the highway, all sections of society, including politicians, traders, transporters, and commuters, demanded that the tax be withdrawn.
A JKSECC spokesperson said that the committee held a meeting in which the members questioned the legal authenticity of the decision.
”The decision has been taken by a non-local organization that has been involved in the execution of a centrally sponsored road project which cannot claim ownership on the road being constructed by them under any law of the land,” he said.
The members said that land for any centrally sponsored project could be requisitioned by and allotted to President of India who in turn may give it to the concerned agency for execution of a particular project. “Such an agency after completion of the project is under obligation to return back the project to the state government for the benefit of its citizens. We wonder how all these provisions of the law could be ignored while taking a decision about the collection of user charges,” the members observed.
He said the decision seems to have been taken without application of mind and without taking the state government into confidence.
The state government has to make NHAI accountable for an unprecedented delay in the completion of the road project that was assigned to them 25 years back. “Whereas the delay has resulted in great public inconvenience, it has also caused huge monetary losses to the traders and transporters. The frequent closure of the highway because of heavy landsliding attributable to the construction works has unleashed socio-economic problems of unimaginable magnitude in the valley,” he said.