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After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of demonetising Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes last week, the Centre government had on November 9 decided to suspend toll tax across all National Highways. Despite this, Haryana Roadways buses have been continuing to charge toll tax from passengers along with the bus fare across the state.
After The Indian Express brought the irregularity to the notice of the Additional Chief Secretary of Haryana Transport Department, SS Dhillon, the department on Tuesday issued directions to general managers of all its depots to stop charging toll tax with immediate effect. Haryana Roadways has a fleet of around 4,200 buses, which operate from 23 depots and 13-sub-depots covering on an average 12.57 lakh kilometers on daily basis by ferrying an average of 12.48 lakh passengers daily.
When contacted, Dhillon was not aware of the fact that Haryana Roadways bus conductors were charging toll tax from passengers. “When the Prime Minister himself has declared that toll tax would remain suspended at all National Highways till November 18, conductors should not charge the toll tax from passengers. If it is so, tell me name of the conductor and bus number, we will take action.” On being told that all conductors say that there is no direction to them from the department not to charge toll tax, Dhillon assured prompt action.
A resident of Ambala and a bank employee at Chandigarh, Govinderjit Singh, complained, “Haryana Roadways bus fare between Chandigarh and Ambala is Rs. 50. But conductors are still charging Rs. 7 as toll tax despite Centre government’s decision to suspend the same.”
After issuing directions to general managers of all Haryana Roadways depots through e-mail as well as on transport department’s Whatsapp group by 12.40 pm to stop charging toll tax with immediate effect, Deputy Transport Controller Ramesh Goyal confirmed that passengers need not pay toll tax till further decision from the Central government.
Goyal accepted that it was due to lack of instructions to the conductors that they were charging toll tax from passengers.
Directing all general managers to treat the issue as “most urgent”, the communication reads, “As you are aware that following government’s decision of scrapping Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 currency notes and looking at the hardship faced by the public, toll tax is not being charged from all vehicles passing through toll barriers. As per news reports, no toll tax would be charged from any vehicle till 18.11.16.”
The letter further reads, “Therefore, when the toll barriers are not charging toll tax from any vehicle, there is no reason to charge toll tax from passengers traveling through Haryana state transport buses. Hence you are requested to ensure that no conductor should charge toll tax from any passenger.”
Goyal informed that since the Haryana state transport make advance payment of toll tax to respective toll barriers, therefore, directions have also been issued to all the general managers to adjust the amount for the total number of no toll tax days with the toll tax barriers while making advance toll tax payment for the month of December.