KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Friday directed the Public Works Department (PWD) to stop toll collection at Kundannoor, on the link road connecting Willingdon Island with the NH-47 bypass.
Directing the PWD to scrap the existing contract with immediate effect, the court also sought year-wise details of toll collected at the Kundannoor toll booth since 2000.
Justice P B Suresh Kumar issued the directive on a petition filed by the Toll Virudha Samara Sahaya Samithi. According to the Samithi, the PWD’s move to permit the present contractor to continue to collect toll is illegal and arbitrary.
Though the petitioner submitted pleas before the government and the PWD, no action has been taken yet. The officials decided to go ahead with the tender proceedings, which will result in around 100 per cent rise in the toll amounts. Earlier, the PWD officials had informed that toll collection would be continued unabated. “Usually, as per agreements, either the construction cost plus 9.5 per cent interest would be recovered, or toll would be collected for 15 years. However, in this case PWD has not fixed any time frame for toll collection. So far, only `16 crore has been recovered against the total cost of `46 crore,” said a PWD official.
Earlier, the Anti-toll Strike Committee, in which most of the council members of the Maradu municipality are members, had staged a protest at the toll gate, disrupting toll collection. The protesters forcefully prevented toll collection from 8 am to 9 am, and allowed vehicles to pass without paying toll.
“Toll collection commenced at the Kundannoor toll plaza in December 2000. Since the 15-year term for toll collection stipulated in the agreement is over, we will not allow the authorities to put additional burden on the people,” said Maradu Municipality vice-chairman K A Devassy.