Faced with a growing opposition from the public to the proposed widening of the National Highways in Goa and pressure from the Central government to commence the work soon, Chief Minister Digambar Kamat has sought to walk the middle path of appeasing both while not really satisfying any.
In a letter addressed to the Union Minister for Roads Kamal Nath, Digambar Kamat has asked the guidelines for collection of toll on National Highways be relaxed in Goa.
While the guidelines provide for exemption of toll to residents within 20 km radius to the toll booth, the chief minister has asked that this be increased to 40 kms in Goa.
Although the chief minister claimed that by increasing the radius nearly 80 per cent of Goans who will be using the National Highway regularly, will be exempted from paying the toll, opponents are bound to reject this proposal and demand that the radium be increased so that no Goan pays any toll.
It would be pertinent to note that the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party has been objecting to the National Highway widening on various grounds including the toll to be paid. The BJP stand has been that since the National Highways in Goa are roads linking taluka headquarters of the State, Goans using these link roads should be spared from paying the toll.
The chief minister also revealed that he has asked the centre to provide for passes for as low as ` 150 per month for regular users of the National Highway.
Meanwhile, the National Highway Diversion Action Committee is scheduled to announce its next phase of agitation on 22nd November.