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Punjab: Dharnas to make roads toll-free gains support; unreasonable taxes need to go, says farmer union

Punjab: Dharnas to make roads toll-free gains support; unreasonable taxes need to go, says farmer union

The Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KMSC) on Thursday had made several toll plazas in Punjab free for commuters as it launched a protest against the state government to press for their demands, including farm debt waiver, remunerative prices for their crops and compensation for damage to crops.

A dharna launched by the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee — a farmers union — at 18 toll plazas of Punjab continued strong on Friday, with commuters breezing though the tax collection points without stopping.

The Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KMSC) on Thursday had made several toll plazas in Punjab free for commuters as it launched a protest against the state government to press for their demands, including farm debt waiver, remunerative prices for their crops and compensation for damage to crops.

Of the 18 toll plazas where the KMSC is staging its dharna, five each come under the Majha and Malwa regions, with the remaining being located in the Doaba region. “Our dharnas at all the toll plazas will continue till January 15. Till then no commuter will be required to pay any toll tax,” Sarwan Singh Pandher, general secretary of KMSC, told The Indian Express on Friday.

Between November 16 and November 24, six National Highways of Punjab cutting through Faridkot, Mansa, Talwandi Sabo, Patiala, Mukerian and Amritsar had been partly blocked by 15 farmer unions, under the banner of Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Apolitical), to press for similar demands.

Though the commuters had then complained about facing difficulties due to the protests then, no such plaints were aired on Friday, with vehicular movement being smooth in most of the regions.

“Thursday had seen a confrontation between the toll plaza staff and protesters. today though, things were peaceful. Our protest is for a public cause. We want the authorities to charge a reasonable sum from commuters cutting through toll plazas. Our dharnas today even saw locals of the area joining us, even as traffic flow remained smooth,” said Satnam Singh Pannu, president of KMSC.

All the toll plazas of Punjab had been blocked from October 1, 2020 till December 15, 2021, as thousands of protesters hit the streets to protest against three contentious farm laws that had been introduced by the Centre.

Exactlly a year after, the farmers were back at the toll plazas of Punjab to perhaps continue their protests for various demands.

On Friday, officials of the National Highways Authority of India refused to comment on the fresh stir that had been started by the farmers against toll taxes Pandher added ,”We already pay road tax. Then, why should we give toll tax as well. If they want to run the toll plazas , they should collect reasonable charges from commuters. Why can’t the government themselves run the toll plazas?”

©Indian Express

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