Newly operational toll plaza along the Jammu-Pathankot National Highway at Sarore in Samba district, has become the new rallying point for all the political parties and their top brass in Jammu region.
Meanwhile, it is the common passenger who is facing hardships for last five days on account of long traffic jams and strike by the transporters union on the same route.
Sensing public mood, the political parties lost no time before throwing their hats in the arena and started politicking to earn brownie points.
Interestingly, none of the politicians are standing with the project executing agency- National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).
On its part, Project Director, NHAI Ajay Kumar Rajak has already clarified before the media that the toll plaza was opened and operated as per rules of the Central Government. He also maintained “The rollback of toll plaza at Sarore is not on cards as its location and rates have been decided by the Central Government”. Ironically, the BJP state president, Ravinder Raina, had termed the toll post as ‘ill thought-out decision of the local officials of the NHAI’ and sought its removal.
Feeling the heat of growing public anger against the BJP’s muted silence over the issue, Raina shot off a letter to Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari requesting scrapping of the toll plaza on October 12.
Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Dr Jitendra Singh also intervened in the matter. After meeting Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on October 15, Dr Singh tweeted, “I took up the issue of Toll Plaza constructed by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) at Sarore with Gadkari in New Delhi and suggested Gadkari to defer operation of Toll Plaza at Sarore keeping in view peculiar circumstances of the State’s transition into the Union Territory. Dr Singh also took up the issue of Toll Plaza with Governor Satya Pal Malik and urged him to defer the continuance of the Plaza.
Meanwhile, opposition parties, Congress, National Conference, Panthers Party, Peoples Democratic Party and several other organisations came out on the streets and held protest demonstrations seeking scrapping of the toll plaza at Sarore.