NHAI suffers Rs. 2,731cr toll loss due to farmers' protest
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) suffered a revenue loss of more than Rs. 2,731 crore due to the ongoing farmers' protest. The statement was made by Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari in a written reply to the Parliament on Wednesday. Farmers have been protesting against three now-repealed agricultural laws since last year. Here are more details on this.
Why does it matter?
- Gadkari's claim highlights the huge financial toll of the farmers' protest which has been underway across several states including Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.
- A query in this regard was issued by Anil Agrawal, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from UP.
- The Parliament has since repealed the controversial laws which were at the center of the farmers' agitation.
60-65 toll plazas affected
Gadkari said operations of 60 to 65 National Highway toll plazas were disrupted owing to the protest. While Haryana incurred the highest loss of Rs. 1,319.61 crore, Punjab suffered a loss of Rs. 1,269.42 crore. In Rajasthan, a toll loss of Rs. 142.29 crore was recorded. The total debt of NHAI rose by 176% in three years, the Minister added.
'Toll plazas affected since October 2020'
"The farmers' protest started affecting toll collection from October 2020. Initially, toll plazas in the state of Punjab were made non-operational by agitating farmers in October 2020," Gadkari said. "It eventually spread to the neighboring states of Haryana and parts of Rajasthan. Overall, 60 to 65 NH toll plazas were affected due to farmer agitation (sic)."
'Continuous efforts' on to resume operations
"MoRTH and NHAI have made continuous efforts to operationalize the affected toll plazas through active communication with the state administration, help of toll collecting agencies etc. (sic)," the Minister added in his response.
Why are farmers protesting?
Thousands of farmers have been camping at Delhi's borders to protest the laws. They said the laws would leave them at the mercy of corporates and deprive them of their minimum assured earnings. The Centre, on the other hand, said they were meant for their benefit and to maximize their income. President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday signed the bill to cancel the laws.