Udhampur civil society protests 'overcharging' at Ban Toll Plaza

Scores of youth from Udhampur town under the banner of Civil Society Udhampur on Sunday held a peaceful sit-in against levying of ‘extra road tax’ on local vehicles.

The protesting youth led by one Rohit Khajuria claimed that they are being forced to pay Rs 200 for a travel distance of 60 kilometer which is “discriminative” in nature as “state government has recently withdrawn an order that levied tax on vehicles in Kashmir Valley”.

“Aren’t we, the people of Udhampur, human being? Why we people are being made to pay extra tax and why not the people of Kashmir Valley even paying tax? In Jammu’s Samba district, an under-construction toll plaza was vandalized to get rid of road tax. What this government wants us to do- damage public properties or resort to violence in our protests?” said Rohit Khajuria.

Recently, after people, particularly local residents, resented levying of tax at Sangam by NHAI, Governor Satya Pal Malik had had assured that there will be no tax for the local residents.

“There won’t be any toll tax on the locals. We have taken up the issue with the central government but due to the ongoing election process things have slowed up a bit,” Governor had said while inaugurating the grid lock separator in Srinagar.

However, toll is still being charged uniformly at Sangam and locals are waiting for May 23 when the MCC will end.  

Khajuria said that people of Udhampur and Katra towns are not even asking for complete waiver of road tax “but this government should direct the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to at least ensure that people are not overcharged”.

Khajuria further said that nowhere across the nation, people are paying Rs 200 for a to-and-fro journey of 30-60 kilometer each, “then why the people of Udhampur, Katra and Jammu are being harassed in the name of toll tax?”

Another protester, Rohit took on Jammu politicians for their “criminal silence” on issues of Jammu interest.

 “They come to us for our votes only. They’re least concerned over our issues,” he added.

The protesters warned that if NHAI doesn’t stop overcharging they will intensify their protest in the days to come and for all the repercussions, only government would be responsible.