Toll plaza at Vagaikulam to be ready in a month

July 30, 2014

Many expressed discontent over paying toll at existing location

Site of change:A view of the new toll plaza near Vagaikulam in Tuticorin district.— Photo: N. Rajesh

Site of change:A view of the new toll plaza near Vagaikulam in Tuticorin district.— Photo: N. Rajesh

A new toll plaza under construction at Vagaikulam on NH 7 A (Tuticorin-Palayamkottai Bypass Road) will be ready in a month, says NHAI Project Director.

After discontent started brewing among heavy vehicle users over paying toll at the existing plaza at Thattaparai junction on Palayamkottai Road, the toll plaza was being shifted to Vagaikulam.

The plaza comprising six toll collection counters with approaching lanes and other infrastructure facilities was being constructed at a cost of Rs.1.4 crore, K. Thangavel, Project Director, NHAI, Madurai, who is in-charge of Tirunelveli, told The Hindu on Tuesday.

He said bhoomi puja for the toll plaza was performed on May 1 and works started immediately. Since local truck operators and other vehicle drivers registered in Tuticorin were reluctant to pay the toll after demanding the shifting of the plaza beyond Vagaikulam airport approach road, the toll agency withdrew from collecting toll.

The toll plaza is a key component of the 47.2-kilometre port connectivity project, which commenced in May 2010 on NH 7A. The toll collection was resumed here from May 1 this year after a gap of 10 months.

The Project Director said the revised toll fee notifications were awaited. Communiqué on this special purpose vehicle project, a joint venture of V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust, Tuticorin and the NHAI, had already been forwarded to the NHAI, New Delhi. Once the project was completed, the notification would be implemented at the new toll plaza.

The 47-km-long four-lane road project from the port to Palayamkottai commenced in May 2010. After completing the work, the project contractor collected toll initially in April 2013.

After a scuffle between road users and toll staff in June 2013, personnel deployed at the counters left their jobs fearing risk of assault.

A lorry owners’ association here claimed that around 400 locally registered lorry operators had been carrying essential goods, including water, vegetables and salt to 11 villages around the toll plaza. These heavy vehicles would have to go through this toll plaza at frequent intervals. So, the agency should exempt these local operators from paying the toll, they sought.

They also agreed to pay the toll once the plaza was shifted to Vagaikulam.

Subsequently, a few persons, including MDMK district secretary S. Joel from Tuticorin, filed writ petitions against toll collection and demanded the shifting of the toll plaza to a new location beyond Vagaikulam Airport.

The toll collection once again came to a halt since the case was pending. Based on the NHAI’s submission that the toll plaza would be shifted to Vagaikulam, Justices V. Ramasubramanian and V.M. Velumani of Madurai Bench of Madras High Court on April 7, 2014 disposed of the writ petitions filed by five persons.

The court directed the NHAI to shift the toll plaza within four months, Mr. Thangavel said.


Source:The Hindu

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