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Protests prompt 24-hour toll gate closure at Raha

Facility illegal as it violates NHAI rules: Akhil



GUWAHATI: The National Highways Authority of India has decided to keep the toll gate at Raha shut for 24 hours in the wake of protests and submission of a memorandum to the Nagaon district administration by several organisations led by Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti leader, Akhil Gogoi on Sunday.

The protesters who marched to the toll gate in the Rontholi area of Raha in the morning alleged that since the facility is located within 2km of Raha town, it was ‘illegal’ as the NHAI rules.

Gogoi justified his demand for closure of the toll gate by saying that section 8 of the National Highways Fee (Determination of Rates and Collection) Rules, 2008, clearly states that the executing authority shall establish a toll plaza beyond a distance of 10km from a municipal or local town area limits and not within.

“However, the Raha toll gate is located within 2 kilometres of the Raha town. We also have the information that the toll Gate is located under Ward No 7 of Raha Town,” he told reporters present at the site.

The district administration however maintained that NHAI had prepared the plan for the four-lane road through Raha in 2003-04, which was at least five years before Raha town came into being.

Additional deputy commissioner, Lachit Das who was present at the site requested the protesters to address their grievances through a letter to the deputy commissioner, which the protesters later obliged. The district administration thereafter notified the issues of the protesters to NHAI.

The organisations, sources say, have requested a meeting with the NHAI authorities in this regard.

Security was beefed up in and around the toll gate on NH 37 from Sunday morning with as many as 12 companies positioned to prevent any untoward incident. Some protesters were reportedly held up at places earlier.

The Nagaon district administration had also arranged an alternative route for commuters from Guwahati to Upper Assam and from Upper Assam to Guwahati.

“Commuters from Guwahati to Upper Assam had to take a detour from an area near Dharamtul to Bebejia while the same route was taken by those coming to Guwahati from Upper Assam. The detour would have taken the commuters an extra 20 minutes I presume,” a district administration official told The Shillong Times.



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