By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 01, Apr 2023, 20:30 pm IST | UPDATED: 19, Apr 2023, 20:39 pm IST
Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Saturday announced the closure of a toll plaza on the Kiratpur Sahib-Nangal-Una Road and targeted the state's previous regimes for "extending largesse" to operators that breached their terms of agreements. The general public will save Rs 10.12 lakh per day with the toll plaza's closure, he said. According to a release, Mann said such toll plazas were "illegally looting" the people in connivance with the previous governments. This is the eighth toll plaza to be shut in the state since the Mann-led AAP government assumed office last year.
The Public Works department will take over these roads and ensure their timely repair, widening and strengthening, Mann added. "The era of 'roads on rent' has ended in the state," he said, adding, "...It is a big reprieve to the common man." Mann also accused the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) of conniving with toll plaza operators to "extend largesse to them by blatantly ignoring their misdeeds.
The agreement for the toll plaza on the Kiratpur Sahib-Nangal-Una Road was signed in October 2006 during the tenure of Amarinder Singh but started operations in November 2007 during the SAD-BJP regime, the chief minister said.
The toll plaza operator was to complete overlay (bitumen laying) by November 2013 but it was done only in 2014, he alleged. There was also a delay of 1,093 days in laying the second overlay, which was done in 2020, he said.
The delay could have invited punitive action and led to the termination of the agreement with the agency but no one bothered to take steps, the AAP leader alleged. "Due to this negligence, the company owes Rs 67 crore to the state but, instead of recovering it, the previous governments have been extending favours to the agency," Mann said.
Mann also claimed that the company was seeking an extension of 582 days on the pretext of the farmers' agitation and the Covid pandemic but his government denied the request. The common man spent Rs 10.12 lakh daily to pass through the road, which connects Punjab with holy places such as Sri Anandpur Sahib, Naina Devi and others, he added.