Commuters enjoy free ride as protestors force open DND flyway
Commuters using the DND (Delhi-Noida-Direct) flyway had a free ride on Sunday as several groups from Noida forced open the toll gates in the morning. The protesters, who sat at an indefinite protest at the toll plaza, caused a loss of lakhs of rupees to the concessionaire.
“The company has a legitimate Concession Agreement with the Noida authority for a period of 30 years and continues to abide by it. Demonstrations like these cause inconvenience to users. Instead of taking law in their hands, protestors should abide by the law. In 10 hours that the toll gates were forced open, the company has suffered a loss of more than Rs 10 lakh,” said Anwar Abbasi, spokesperson of the Noida Toll Bridge Company Ltd (NTBCL).
Thousands of protestors under the banner of Janhit Morcha launched an indefinite strike at the DND flyway, connecting South Delhi to Noida, to demand the removal of the toll tax on Sunday morning.
Demanding free ride for all, the protesters staged a dharna at the plaza. They also opened the toll plaza, forcing the staff to vacate it. Due to the protest, vehicular movement on the carriageway was paralysed between 9 am and 1 pm.
Traffic was gridlocked between Ashram in New Delhi and Mahamaya flyover in Noida. Vehicles crawled along the 7.5-km stretch as well as the 1.5-km Mayur Vihar link.
Within hours of protest, traffic volume increased on the Kalindi Kunj road and Jhundpura road. “It normally takes me 45 minutes to reach Noida from Sarojini Nagar, but today it took me nearly two hours. All bus routes were diverted because of the demonstration,” said Amit Kumar, an executive who works with a private company.
Spearheaded by former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) minister Nawab Singh Nagar, the protest is being held against the alleged irregularities of the NTBCL.
“We have given a notice to the district administration, asking them to free the carriageway with immediate effect. We will not call off our agitation till our demands are accepted,” said Nagar.
The former minister has accused the authorities of misrepresenting facts regarding the money spent on the project and has demanded that the plaza should be made toll-free.
The minister alleged that the DND admistration had made more money than it had spent. Nagar also blamed the Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh for not taking action against such concessionaire firms as most of the tolls have been removed across the country as the builders have already recovered their cost.
Other organisations such as Crime-Free India Force, Noida Entrepreneurs Association, several residents’ welfare associations, Kisan Union, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Noida Transport Association, Indian Industries Association, Punjabi Samaj, Deed Writers Association and Noida Vyapar Mandal are participating in the protest. Janhit Morcha has said the indefinite protest will continue until the DND is toll-free.
This is not the first time when DND has been opened for free ride. In last three to four years, there has been dozens of occasions when the toll plaza has been opened.
The matter even reached Allahabad high court, where the matter is sub-judice.