SRINAGAR: Senior Congress leader M K Bhardwaj has strongly advocated for the immediate abolition of toll tax in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Expressing concern over the toll tax imposed by central agencies in collaboration with the Lt Governor’s administration, Bhardwaj labelled it an anti-people measure that disregards the region’s unique topographic challenges and the economic capacity of its citizens.
Addressing a press conference in Jammu, Bhardwaj criticised the administration led by the Lt Governor for neglecting the plight of the people amid heavy losses caused by continuous rains and adverse weather conditions. He pointed out that despite the damages inflicted upon roads and bridges, the authorities continued to levy hefty toll taxes, placing an additional burden on the populace who often had to navigate through makeshift diversions under challenging circumstances.
Bhardwaj’s demand extended to the immediate abolition of toll taxes in areas such as the Sarore Toll Plaza, which notably impacts both rural and urban residents of the Jammu region. He asserted that the Sarore toll post should be promptly shut down while awaiting an official government decision to withdraw this tax.
The Congress leader took a critical stance against the imposition of toll taxes and the installation of smart meters, characterising them as policies that negatively affect the people. Bhardwaj called out the local leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), stating that they had willingly aligned themselves with these policies, despite the widespread suffering they caused. He questioned the timing of the BJP leaders’ opposition to these policies, highlighting that they had been silent during their implementation.
Bhardwaj further remarked on the apparent panic and confusion among the BJP leaders, suggesting that their actions indicated a loss of confidence among the people. He noted that despite the BJP’s presence in both the Central and the Jammu and Kashmir governments, their inability to address people-centric concerns showcased their disconnect from the public.
MR Qureshi, a former MLC and prominent advocate, echoed Bhardwaj’s sentiments, criticizing the central government’s and UT administration’s neglect of the people’s issues in the Union Territory. He vehemently condemned the toll charges at various toll collection points and blamed the BJP government for imposing unwarranted and unreasonable toll taxes, along with the introduction of prepaid smart meters in the region.