Two faces of protests at toll plazas while MNS flexes muscles, newly-formed NBDP does it with roses

Jan 30, 2014, 04:29 IST | Tahasin Atar

Though both outfits are demanding transparency in toll collection process, in stark contrast to Maharashtra Navnirman Sena workers ransacking toll booths, members of Nav-Bharat Democratic Party yesterday distributed roses and greeting cards among toll plaza workers in Urse and Khalapur. However, no prior permission was obtained by NBDP for this peaceful demonstration

While Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) workers are facing police action after vandalising toll plazas across the state, members of the newly-formed Nav-Bharat Democratic Party (NBDP) are walking the path of peace.

Different approaches: The NBDP members yesterday distributed roses (below) at some of the toll plazas earlier attacked by MNS representatives (above)

Members of the outfit yesterday distributed roses and greeting cards among employees of the Urse toll plaza on Mumbai-Pune expressway and Khalapur toll plaza.

warring with roses! NBDP members claim an oral authorisation was taken from senior police officers, who were on bandobast duty at the toll nakas, to carry out the peaceful drive

Interestingly, no prior permission was obtained by the party to conduct the drive from the police authorities under whose jurisdiction the toll plazas fall. However, party members claim an oral authorisation was taken from senior police officers, who were on bandobast duty at the toll nakas.

“We believe in peaceful protests, and hence have launched an indefinite nonviolent andolan. We are only handing over roses and cards to the employees at the toll plazas on the Mumbai Pune expressway,” said Harshvardhan Sukhatme of NBDP. “Vandalising and damaging toll booths is not the way to deal with the situation.

Though our objectives are the same (as those of the MNS), i.e., making toll collection transparent, we shall hold nonviolent demonstrations and won’t do anything so irrational,” he added.

“Even though police security at toll plazas has been beefed up, the employees at the booths are in a state of shock and are sick of this vandalism,” said Sukhatme.

Talking about the need to bring in transparency in the toll collection system, he said, “The government should bring out a white paper and clearly state where the funds received from toll collection are being utilised. IRB has been overcharging the users for the past several years, and this definitely shouldn’t continue any more.

Also, stopping toll collection entirely is absurd, but the government should bring in transparency in the matter, and commuters should know where their money is being employed.”

Commuter speaks

Commenting on this drive by the NBP, Raju Kulkarni, a regular commuter on Pune- Mumbai expressway, said, “It is better than smashing toll booths. We are going the Somalian way, where people just break things and flee. It is a loss to the nation’s economy. Things should be sorted out in a democratic manner, and damaging property is not the way. Having said that, I believe the contractors of these highways are collecting exorbitant amount of toll from the users. I have paid more than Rs 2-3 lakh as toll so far. Also, no figures are made available to the public as to where the money is being used.”

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