ROURKELA: In a renewed protest against collection of toll on Biju Expressway (State Highway-10) at three places between Rourkela and Sambalpur, members of six bar associations of Sundargarh, Jharsuguda and Sambalpur districts have announced to disrupt vehicular traffic on May 26. The protest call has been given by the Sambalpur Highway Users’ Forum.
On March 17, Sundargarh Citizens’ Forum (SCF) with support of District Bar Association (SDBA) had effected 12-hour shutdown in Sundargarh town and adjacent rural pockets. On the same day, Rourkela Mining Area Truck and Tipper Owners’ Association (RMATTOA) had also disrupted vehicular traffic at Laing toll gate. Similar protests were also held in Sambalpur and Jharsuguda districts on different days.
SCF president and former head of SDBA Ashok Das said commuters are forced to pay exorbitant fees at Laing and Masnikani toll gates in Sundargarh and Nua Khurigaon in Sambalpur. The Rourkela Bar Association (RBA) and two other smaller bar associations in Sundargarh have taken the lead of protest at Masnikani and Laing, while its counterparts in Sambalpur and Jharsuguda would also hold protest in their districts on May 26 demanding total abolition of toll gates. The State Government continues to be adamant on collections of exorbitant toll and after the May 26 protest, they would decide on next course of action to intensify the stir, he added.
RBA president Satya Sharma said there is no uniformity in toll rates at different gates and demanded exemption of private four-wheelers and vehicles used for agriculture purpose from toll collection. He pointed out that a farmer residing on the other side of the toll gate when requiring to visit his farm land with tractor on the other side, would have to pay both to and fro journey. The RBA will hold a general body meeting on Thursday where decision would be taken to support the cause, he added.