The Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked a toll plaza managing company that approached it claiming financial loss due to the ongoing farmers’ agitation to furnish information regarding position at other toll plazas run by it. Panipat-Jalandhar NH-1 Tollway Pvt Ltd, the concessionaire managing Ladowal toll plaza on the Panipat-Jalandhar highway had on Monday approached the courts and claimed massive revenue losses, reported the Tribune.
Taking up the petition against the Punjab Government and other respondents Justice Harsimran Singh Sethi has reportedly asked for financial details and fixed the next hearing for January 6, 2021.
According to the Tribune News Service, the company managing the Ladowal toll plaza on the Panipat-Jalandhar highway has claimed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court that it faced financial loss because of the “inability to collect fee due to the farmers’ agitation” and “breakdown of law and order set-up”. The petition against the State of Punjab and other respondents was filed through counsel Sumeet Goel. As reported by the TNS, Goel submitted that “the company suffered loss of around Rs 36.63 crore, excluding interest, following non-collection of requisite toll fee at the Ladowal toll plaza from October 7 to November 24.”
The lawyer added that “the company was granted the exclusive right, licence and authority to construct, operate and maintain around 291 km of the six-lane road, from km 96 to km 387, on National Highway-1 from Panipat to Jalandhar for 15 years with the right to exclusively levy and collect toll from May 11, 2009” stated the news report. He submitted that the working and collection of toll at the plaza was disrupted, and added that this “also resulted in disruption of highway maintenance.”
According to the reports the petitioner-company “requested the Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner and police authorities to ensure the toll plaza’s functioning. On September 23, the petitioner sent a communication to the project director, NHAI, also requesting him police protection for the assets and staff to prevent disruption in operations.” According to the lawyer, “despite requests, nothing was done.”
Similar news reports of ‘toll plaza earnings being hit’ have begun to appear in mainstream media over the last few days. According to a news report in Times of India after the vehicle movement on Delhi-Jaipur highway was hit by the farmers protest toll plazas have reported losses. “In the case of Punjab, the daily loss in toll revenue is close to Rs 2.8 crore and the agitating farmers have forcibly made all 25 toll plazas on NHs in the state toll free from October 2. The total revenue loss so far is loss so far is around Rs 210 crore,” stated the TOI, without naming the source of this data.
It is known that in a recent letter to Punjab chief minister Captain Amrinder Singh, highways minister Nitin Gadkari had highlighted how the Centre was fast tracking various new projects in the state. He is reported to have “flagged that any further loss of revenue due to agitation will ‘severely affect’ the new projects.”