PIL against Toll Plaza at Ludhiana-Malerkotla-Sangrur road took a new turn with petitioner alleging discrimination in a recently constructed 4-lane Bathinda-Badal road where no toll tax has been levied on vehicles.
During resumed hearing of the PIL before Punjab and Haryana High Court filed by Toll Plaza Virodhi Action Committee, Mandi Ahmedgarh on Friday, the petitioner-Action Committee filed an additional affidavit alleging that State Government had not installed any toll tax barrier on Bathinda-Badal-31 Kilometer long 4-Lane road constructed during last 3-4 years with funds of PWD Department. The petitioner thus alleged discrimination in as much as in a similar situation, two toll tax barriers have been erected on Ludhiana-Malerkotla-Sangrur road, which was constructed with funds from Punjab Roads and Bridges Development Board in the year-2011.
Describing the features of Bathinda-Badal road, the petitioner has stated in its additional affidavit that “If compared with Ludhiana-Malerkotla-Sangrur Highway, the Bathinda to Badal road appears to be like heaven on this earth. It has beautiful flower plants in the middle of road with two lanes on either side of the road and it has very rare and precious trees planted and grown on either side of it, which have been brought from other States and planted on the sides of this road. It has beautiful roundabouts and if one travels on this road during night hours, one would enjoy the beauty of flooded lights installed alongside this road.”
The petitioner has also enclosed with its affidavit-6 photograhs of various points of the road. The petitioner had already assailed the provisions contained in Section 3 (I) of The Punjab Mechanical Vehicles (Bridges and Roads Tolls) Act, 1998, which empowers the State Government to levy toll on any already constructed roads also, inter-alia, on the ground that State Government may misuse its discretion and select roads in a discriminatory manner for levying toll tax.
The petitioner has also challenged the concessionaire agreement on the ground that state government can give contract for collection of toll on roads already constructed with its funds only for a period of one year, whereas in the instant case contract has been given to the concessionaire for a period of 7 years, thereby violation other provisions of “The Punjab Mechanical Vehicles (Bridges and Roads Tolls) Act, 1998.” and thereby conferring undue benefits on the concessionaire in the instant case.
The State Government as well as concessionaire, namely Gawar Construction Limited have filed their respective written statements today during court proceedings, justifying their conduct in allotment of contract for 7 years on the basis that it has been done through open tenders, and although the road has been constructed with funds borrowed from World Bank in the year-2011, the concessionaire would also be investing a lot of funds on maintenance and development of the road.
The PIL has been adjourned to January 22, 2016 for arguments.