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Angry with toll, villagers use JCB to bypass toll gate

Hejamadi toll plaza has been in news for a long time now. After the government of India made the FasTag mandatory earlier this year, clashes between the locals and toll booth operators have frequented. In coastal Karnataka, the villagers took the matter into their hands when the authorities did not listen to their pleas.

Residents of Hejamadi village have now constructed a parallel road to bypass the toll booth. The new road was built on the busy Mangaluru-Udupi highway. After the FASTag became mandatory without any further extension of the deadlines earlier this year, Hejamadi residents were given concession. However, four buses that pick up passengers from the village, did not get any concession.

Addressing the issue, the gram panchayat petitioned the concessionaire for the buses too. In fact, the authorities promised to give concession to the buses that come to pick up passengers from the village. However, it never came. Tired of waiting, the gram panchayat called for an emergency meeting and decided to do away with the toll plaza according to Bangalore Mirror.

New road constructed

Villagers hired a JCB backhoe and constructed a temporary road to bypass the toll booths. The new road has come up alongside the main road to bypass the toll plaza. Even though the concessionaire came to the spot after getting the news of the new road being constructed, the villagers protested but did not stop building the new road.

The villagers demanded that their demands should be addressed by the authorities first. After a long discussion between the authorities and the villagers, a written assurance was given that they will give concession to the buses in the future. However, the buses have already started using the temporary roads.

NHAI officials claim that the locals just do not want to pay the toll charges and want to move around freely. The NHAI has even issued passes to the villagers. However, with the introduction of the FASTags, no physical pass works at the toll gate. Even the villagers who want a concession need to put up the FASTag and then seek a concession.

Due to the new rules, protests were held at the airport toll plaza near Davanahalli. The locals protested for a toll-free road too. The protesters want an option where they can use a toll-free road to reach their homes. There are quite a few toll plazas around India that offer a toll-free road for local vehicles. However, that option was not available to the Hejamadi villagers.

Protest to merge tolls

Hejamadi toll came up sometime in 2018. With Rs 110 toll charges, there is another toll booth only 2 km away from this that charges Rs 90. The locals have protested and demanded these toll gates be merged before making FASTag mandatory. Even though the local authorities have approved the merger of Surathkal toll plaza with Hejamadi in 2018, the NHAI did not take any action.