The Belgaum Cantonment is collecting toll on commercial vehicles in the name of “license fee” and the manner in which it is being collected is nothing but extortion and worst part the district administration and the police are not acting on this for reasons unknown.
Take this example of today morning (29 Feb)
Location Congress road Near Kagal Cross
The PVG Pune – Belgaum bus was stopped by 3 people and asked for a toll of Rs.30. Officially there is no Rs.30 slab at all and were forcefully asking to pay the toll. One amongst the three stood infront of the bus so that the bus cant leave easily.
What is this Goonda Raj and the Police is not acting upon this even after repeated representations from various citizens, may be they are waiting for something more serious incident to happen.
Yesterday your editor had a slight miss or else he would have been in the news for hitting one of those youth collecting toll as he was standing the middle of the road.
The collection of license fee, which has been taking place, on and off, in a haphazard manner, at 3 or 4 points on the roads of Cantonment, is proving to be a big nuisance to the citizens of Belgaum and will soon prove to be terribly costly of human life as soon there is likely to be blood and death in front of these ‘toll-nakas’ – and precious and innocent life will be lost – all for the sake of few rupees.
There is absolutely no sign displaying what charges are payable by what category of vehicles and which categories have been exempted by the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka Order of 13th February 2012.
The Contractor is targeting any vehicle with a yellow number plate and extracting the maximum rate from the hapless driver. This is totally wrong, arbitrary, discriminatory and illegal. Proof of this has been obtained from the drivers and may be inspected by anyone.
At present, there are no notice boards whatsoever indicating what charges are to be paid by which category of vehicles. Also, there is no intimation of which category of vehicles have been exempted by the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka on 13th of February 2012. Because of this, the Contractor is charging the maximum rate, and disputes are taking place.
We would like to urge you to prevail upon the Cantonment Authorities to immediately install large notice boards, visible from afar, of all information i.e., who is collecting this charge, what is the rate per category of vehicle, which are the exempted categories, etc., in Kannada, English, Hindi and Marathi. This board should be illuminated after sunset.
The Notice Board should display the name of the Authority to which complaints of overcharging etc. should be made.
Youth with no identity cards armed with lathis are manning the collection booths and running in front of vehicles without understanding the flow of traffic problems. Some vehicles cannot stop suddenly and the youths who have caused the accident will disappear from the scene.
The Contractor will be responsible for any damage or death caused in such accidents.
The collection of the ‘license fee’ is taking place at three points, initially – on Ganeshpur Road, on both sides of Congress Road near ‘Pop-in’ and near the tri-junction of roads at Amba Bhavan.
All three roads are Belgaum’s ‘arterial’ roads. Any blocks in this arterial system has serious consequences. The C.E.O. at his Press Conference on 21st has said that soon ‘Toll Nakas’ will be set up at Ashoka Circle, Dharwad road (near Bharatesh College) and near the Hindalga Ganapati Temple.
These are also arterial roads and this will not only paralyse traffic – but cause system failure. There will be traffic jams, loss of temper, fist-fights and violence. The Traffic Police will come under very heavy stress and may not be able to cope. Already Ashoka Circle traffic is virtually unmanageable.
If there is blood and death on the road in front of the Toll Nakas, these youth, who have caused the loss of precious life will vanish without a trace, perhaps back to Ahmednagar. These youth should be given identity cards and the identity registered with the Police. They should also be fingerprinted.
Cantonment Authorities should be informed that in the event of loss of life, or limb – or damage, the legal responsibility of causing the accident will devolve upon Balaji, the Contractor of the Cantonment Board and vicariously upon the Cantonment Board who has ordered the operation – all for a few rupees.
We are still not able to understand why the District administration / Police are not able to handle this situation in a proper manner. When contacted they say, “ we are in constant touch with Cantonment and a resolution would be out soon.”