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CM Mann Announces Closure Of Another Toll Plaza In Punjab

According to Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, the closure of a toll plaza in Singhawala near Chand Purana is in response to the previous government's “open looting of the public through these shops ”.

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Bhagwant Mann
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Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann Wednesday announced the closure of a toll plaza located on the Moga-Kotkapura road near Chand Purana in Singhawala as he targeted the previous governments for “the open loot of general public through these shops”.
        
Mann said it was the 10th toll plaza which has been shut after the AAP government came to power, according to an official statement.
        
The chief minister said commuters, who were paying Rs 4.68 lakh every day for using the Moga-Kotkapura road, will now be able to save their money after the closure of the Singhawala toll plaza.
        
He said people had to pay an amount of Rs 44.43 lakh for crossing these 10 toll plazas, which were in reality “the shops for the open loot of the general public”. 
     
The operators of these toll plazas "looted" the public by flouting norms, Mann claimed, adding it was surprising that instead of taking action against them in larger public interests, the previous state governments had “patronized this loot by keeping a blind eye towards their misdeeds”.
        
The previous governments ignored the ambiguities of these erring toll plazas and allowed them to mint money illegally, Mann alleged. 
     
The chief minister said at none of the toll plazas, which have been shut so far, the facility of ambulance or recovery van was visible despite the provision for it in agreements.
        
Speaking about the Singhawala toll plaza, Mann said the agreement of this toll plaza was signed in September 2006 during the Amarinder Singh government and the toll was imposed for around 16 years. 
        
The first overlay of the road (laying of bitumen) which was to be done by the company was delayed by 158 days after which a fine of Rs 2.48 crore was imposed on it. However, Mann said, this fine was never recovered from the company by the government. 
        
The toll could have been shut down in November 2019 when the second overlay was not done and a fine worth Rs 3.89 crore was imposed on the erring company. 
     
He said it was a violation of the agreement because if the amount of fine exceeded Rs 3.11 crore then the contract could have been terminated. 
     
He also asked Congress to explain why these toll plazas were not stopped during their tenures. 
     
Mann said the fact of the matter was that Congress had “patronized” toll plazas due to which they never took action against erring operators.
     
The chief minister further said that the company, which was running the Singhawala toll plaza, was seeking an extension on the pretext of farmers' agitation and the Covid-19 pandemic but his government denied it.

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