Bengaluru International Airport road toll tax proposal draws local residents’ ire

Bengaluru International Airport road toll tax proposal draws local residents’ ire

DNA / Aparajita Ray / Monday, November 8, 2010 8:38 IST

The toll plaza coming up at Sadahalli Gate towards Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) is showing signs of turning into a red rag for local residents and taxi drivers. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has decided to collect a toll on the stretch from Sadahalli to BIA and the tax could be anywhere between Rs50 and Rs60 for four wheelers.
Sadahalli comes under the National Highway 7 (NH) and is situated 17 km from Yelahanka limits and about 10 km out of BBMP limits. Therefore, the NHAI has full authority to go ahead by imposing a toll on this stretch. This implies that the burden will be passed on to the taxis and buses which ply on this stretch. Even private vehicles which travel to the airport will have to pay a toll. However, it is the local residents who stay on either side of NH 7 in Sadahalli and in areas of Yelahanka and Bytarayanapura, who will be the worst hit as they feel that this is just another way of fleecing them.
“We do not have any alternative roads and the existing ones will take long to reach even Jakkur Layout. We have heard that the construction of the toll plaza will begin soon and the peace of this locality will be gone. This means we will have to pay toll whenever we step out into the city and also when we come back home. This is not justified,” rued Sundar Narayana, a resident of Sadahalli and real estate businessman.

“This is another tax burdened on people who use the road to go into the city. When the Yelahanka New Town was planned, there was an alternative road. But, that has not been used for easy commutation towards the city and has been de-routed many a time by the BBMP. With the proposed toll gate expected to open soon, residents will opt to use this road, for which the BBMP must ensure that it is not de-routed anymore,” said BK Ekambarisha, president of New Yelahanka Town Citizen Forum Residents Welfare Association.
“This policy is totally anti-citizen. When the international airport came up in Devanahalli, many flyers shifted to Hebbal and Yelahanka, to lessen travel time to the airport.
But this policy certainly will make people think twice before taking a flight. This is inappropriate on the government’s part,” said retired brigadier TC Singh, a resident of Yelahanka.

The proposed toll has not gone well with taxi unions like Adarsha Auto Taxi Drivers’ Union, Great Karnataka Auto taxi Drivers’ Union, Karnataka Janshirya Auto taxi Drivers’ Union, whose taxis ferry thousands of passengers to and from the airport. “If this is imposed on city taxis and autos, then each driver would end up paying Rs200 minimum as toll tax which will be a burden on the poor drivers. We will discuss the matter and if necessary, we will send a memorandum to the transport minister to exempt taxis and autos from this tax,” said Abdul Suban Mushtaq, president, Great Karnataka Auto Taxi Drivers’ Union.
Meanwhile, a BMTC official said that fares on the Volvo buses plying towards the airport will increase as the corporation also has to pay the toll fixed by the government.
However, some citizens feel that the toll would not matter much. “I keep flying and pay `200 for travelling from Indiranagar to the airport by the BMTC shuttle. If BMTC increases the fare by another Rs20, it would not matter much as the cost of travelling is already high. Toll gate would only ensure security to the citizens,” said Anuprita Bhattacharya, a resident of Indiranagar.

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