BANGALORE: Around 150 taxi drivers gathered at the Devanahalli toll booth on the third day since the controversial toll collection by the NHAI started. They demanded that NHAI should revoke the toll collection for vehicles heading towards the airport or provide concession to cabs which have to pass through the toll gate repeatedly.
The protesters gathered at the toll plaza at 11.20 am in the morning and after waiting for some time, police took 97 people into preventive arrest including G R Shanmugappa, President of All India Motor Transport Congress and Neelkanthappa, General Secretary of Taxi Owners Association. They were released at 6.00 pm according to police officials.
“Each of our vehicles will make at least 3-4 trips to the airport in a day. We cannot pay every time. They should give taxis making airport drops some concession,” said Radhakrishna Holla, General Secretary of the Bangalore Tourist and Taxi Owner’s Association (BTTOA). He said that close to 30 lakh vehicles travel to the airport everyday and a majority of them make multiple trips. The taxi owners are demanding a monthly pass allowing unlimited entries be issued to them or the toll be revoked.
However, some travel agents and taxi owners are questioning the point of the protests since they feel that the ultimate burden will be borne by the passengers. “Why not just ask the passenger to pay the toll, when BMTC is raising their fares,” said a taxi driver who wished to remain anonymous.
R K Gupta, Project Director for NHAI stated that toll was being collected based on National Rules and authority provided for NHAI. “Why should we make special concessions at one toll booth. There is already an option of a monthly pass of Rs 600 which allows 50 trips,” he said. NHAI officially has refused to roll back the toll.
Speaking after his release, Shanmugappa said the protesters would meet the CM and ask him to intervene. He stated that in absence of a favourable decision, all taxis which go to the airport will be withdrawn.