Jammu, Aug 22: Former Minister and senior National Conference leader Ajay Kumar Sadhotra today asked the government not to make a prestige issue the rollback of levying toll tax at Sarore on Jammu highway and decision of smart meters.
In a statement, he alleged that the illogical and unjust measures are like punishing the people. Sadhotra said that in a welfare state, facilitating people is a matter of right and not any concession.
He described the levying of toll at Sarore as an avoidable burden on the common people and called for its immediate winding up in the larger interest of traders, industrialists, tourists, pilgrims and above all the common commuters.
“The decision is all the more condemnable, as the government has been charging cess on petrol and diesel for construction, upgradation, improvement and upkeep of the roads,”said the senior NC leader said. He wondered the rationale in levying road taxes when the people are bearing the burden indirectly by way of fuel cess.
He said the National Conference has all along opposed tooth and nail the decision of putting in place a Toll Plaza at the initial stage but the government has been looking towards the other side thus creating a situation which is against the interests of the all segments of society, especially as the National Highway (Express Corridor) is still under construction.
Sadhotra assailed the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) for ignoring the resentment being registered by the stakeholders in a peaceful manner and urged the “Double Engine Sarkar” to shun confrontational approach, see reason in the overwhelming demand and roll back the decision to toll collection at Sarore Toll Plaza and Lakhanpur, as the Express Highway is still under construction.
He also viewed with concern the reports of harassment and arrest of protesting youth. Former Minister cautioned against such rowdy action and demanded immediate release of peaceful protesting youth.
He also emphasised need for focussing attention on the construction, improvement and upgradation of roads, especially the National Highway instead of punishing the road users by way of taxes.
Sadhotra criticised the government for pushing Jammu and Kashmir to the wall and their failure on all fronts. He said the smart meter issue is yet another harsh measure being imposed on the common consumers that is required to be sorted out as per popular aspirations of the people.
The Former Minister said ours is a democratic country, the Double Engine Sarkar should respect the public sentiments and not to behave as viceroys. The present dispensation must also understand that they are to serve the people and we are welfare state. He hoped that good sense will prevail and steps shall be taken for course correction earnestly.