The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has moved Punjab and Haryana high court demanding resumption of four toll plazas in Punjab.

The toll plazas cited affected by the agency are Usma toll in Tarn Taran on the Amritsar-Tarn Taran Harike bypass closed since June 6, Chak Bahmniya toll plaza in Jalandhar on Lambra-Shahkot-Moga highway closed since June 2, Ladhowal toll in Ludhiana on Panipat-Jalandhar highway closed since June 16 and Ghaggar toll plaza near Ambala on Panipat-Khanna highway. (HT photo)

An application moved by the NHAI claimed that disruption of toll services at these four toll plazas has led to financial losses of 113 crore to the agency.

Acting on the plea, the high court bench of justice Vinod S Bhardwaj has posted the matter for hearing for July 10 and asked Punjab’s advocate general Gurminder Singh to assist the court on the adjourned date. It has also sought a response from the state government, NHAI’s counsel, senior advocate Chetan Mittal said. A detailed order is awaited.

The application was moved by the NHAI in a matter of disruptions of toll services, which was disposed by the high court in 2023.

The application, filed by a NHAI project director, Lichhman Ram, said that on January 12, 2023, the court had directed Punjab and its DGP to provide adequate security and make safety arrangements “in terms of the state support agreement to safeguard the property of the NHAI so that the trespassers did not take over the remaining toll plazas and normalcy might be restored”.

Subsequently, the DGP (law and order) filed affidavits on February 15, 2023, and July 12, 2023, stating that directions had been issued to the field units for meticulous compliance with the high court order and that adequate safety and security arrangements be provided to safeguard the property/toll plazas of NHAI operational in Punjab. However, even as various letters were written to the authorities, they have turned a “blind eye” and not taken any action in the matter, thereby putting NHAI into financial losses. The applicant is facing “serious problems in two toll plazas which have been encroached upon by protesters and have serious other law and other problems, it said.

The protests are being carried out by different farmers’ unions against the alleged hikes in the toll fee and further alleging that NHAI is hiking the toll fee at will without providing adequate facilities.

The toll plazas cited affected by the agency are Usma toll in Tarn Taran on the Amritsar-Tarn Taran Harike bypass closed since June 6, Chak Bahmniya toll plaza in Jalandhar on Lambra-Shahkot-Moga highway closed since June 2, Ladhowal toll in Ludhiana on Panipat-Jalandhar highway closed since June 16 and Ghaggar toll plaza near Ambala on Panipat-Khanna highway.

As per Mittal, there is a threat to the life and security of the personnel deputed at various toll plazas due to the ongoing protest. The personnel are unable to leave as the assets at the site could not be left unattended, he said. “…under the garb of the protests, certain anti-social elements/ miscreants are extorting money from the personnel of the toll plazas. All these facts have been brought to the notice of the district administration and the police authorities. However, no action has been taken,” the plea said, seeking direction for the resumption of toll plazas in the state.