The anti-farm law agitation has caused a toll revenue loss of ₹2000 crores in the States of Punjab and Haryana, reported News18.
For the past 8 months, toll plazas on National Highway 44 have been converted into protest sites by farmers. About 50 toll plazas in Punjab and Haryana have been rendered non-functional by the farmer protestors, resulting in an estimated daily loss of ₹5 crores. This has been the longest period during which toll plazas have remained closed on the National Highway. The Union government has asked the States to resume collection of fees at toll plazas.
However, the Punjab and Haryana governments have so far not intervened, fearing a law and order crisis by frenzied farmer protestors. A Central government official said, “It seems a complete surrender by both these states to this unprecedented unlawful act of farmers.” Meanwhile, farmer protestors have set up temporary tea stalls, tents, chairs, fans, coolers, and cooking equipment at toll plazas. A few lanes have been kept empty to allow vehicular movement. The demonstrators have also parked their SUVs, bearing the flags of Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), at the toll plazas.
Posters of farmer leaders have also been set up. Besides, the protestors are now building concrete structures to protect them from heat. An official said that States are not bothered about the losses incurred by toll plazas as they are built on National Highways. While speaking to News 18, one farmer named Satnam Singh said, “We are not hurting the people; they have a free pass and are thankful to us for saving us the cost of paying the toll when fuel prices have hit over Rs 100. No one from the public is complaining at all. We are hurting the government which hasn’t accepted our demands since eight months.”
NHAI has suffered toll-revenue loss of Rs 814 crore till March 16
In a written reply to the Rajya Sabha, Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Roads, Transport, Highways, and MSMEs informed that the National Highways Authority of India suffered a toll revenue loss of Rs 814.4 crore till March 16 as a result of farmers’ agitation in three states. Taking into account the heavy revenue loss, state administrations have been requested to reinitiate user fee collection at the tolls. On March 22, the Minister, “Loss of revenue due to farmers’ protest has primarily occurred in the States of Punjab and Haryana and at a few plazas in Rajasthan.”
Punjab witnessed the highest loss of Rs 487 crore, followed by Rs 326 crore in Haryana and Rs 1.40 crore in Rajasthan. Nitin Gadkari further informed, “no loss of revenue is reported on account of farmers’ protest in other States”. Drawing the Punjab government’s attention to the matter, he added, “Request has been made to Government of Punjab for urgent intervention for the smooth functioning of toll plazas in Punjab”.