Private bus services along the Jammu-Pathankot highway remained suspended for the second day on Tuesday to protest the newly set up toll plaza at Sarore in Samba district. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) defended its decision to set up the toll plaza and assured the people of hassle-free movement of traffic. The toll plaza was inaugurated by the NHAI on October 11, drawing strong opposition from residents and political parties, including the BJP, which wrote a two-page letter to the Union Transport Ministry seeking its removal.
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Transporters staged demonstrations at different places for the second day. During a protest at the general bus stand here on Monday, they had threatened 'chakka jam' across Jammu if their demand was not met immediately. Commuters, including students and office goers, faced hardships in getting from one place to another. The NHAI said the toll plaza had been set up in accordance with the established norms followed across the country.
"We want to clarify that there was no violation of guidelines in setting up the toll plaza at Thandikhui near Sartore. The traffic is being smoothened and reduced day by day to ensure no traffic jam," project director, NHAI, Project Implementation Unit, Ajay Kumar Rajak, told reporters here.
The traffic congestion on the first day was due to the non-cooperation of commuters who do not want to pay the user fee, he said. The traffic congestion has now significantly reduced. Dedicated lanes have been allotted for buses, trucks, light motor vehicles, and VIP vehicles, he added. Rajak said the NHAI had started issuing monthly passes to commuters which would help to further reduce the congestion and the number of toll booths would also be increased to ease the traffic flow. There are four toll plazas in Jammu and Kashmir and they are generating a cumulative income of Rs 195.6 crore annually.