Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Sunday announced closure of two toll plazas on the Sangrur-Ludhiana road as their term is going to expire on Sunday midnight.
“These toll plazas were seeking extension of 20 months or compensation worth Rs 50 crore but I have rejected it and ordered closure of these tolls in larger public interest,” he said while addressing a gathering in Sangrur.
The Chief Minister said the toll was started on September 5, 2015, for a period of seven years. This toll was a “gift” of the then Akali government whose candidate had emerged victorious in bypoll held in April 2015, he said.
Mann asserted that though then Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had promised that this toll will not be installed but immediately after their candidate won the bypoll, they took a U-turn and the toll was made functional in September.
The Chief Minister said that for seven years, people paid huge amounts of money from their pockets to pass through these toll plazas. Mann said, as an MP, he also raised the issue of exorbitant toll rates in Parliament but to no avail.
However, he said since the term of toll plazas will be over by midnight of September 4 so from Monday these toll plazas will not be functional.
Describing it as a major relief to people, the Chief Minister emphasised that people can travel freely on road without paying whopping toll on both of these toll plazas from Monday.
Mann unequivocally said that he had rejected the company’s pleas for extension or compensation “as coronavirus was a global disaster and the farmers’ agitation was result of draconian farm laws of the Central government, for which the Union government had apologised later”.
He claimed any other person would have agreed to the proposals of the company but he kept the interests of Punjabis above that of the company and decided to close it.