Chennai: Madras High Court today granted an interim injunction restraining National Highways Authority of India from collecting toll at Paranur near Chengalpet.

A vacation bench of Justices R Sudhakar and K K Sasidharan granted the interim injunction restraining private/government agencies from collecting toll at the plaza on a PIL filed by advocate Govind Chandrasekhar who contended that establishment of the toll plaza itself is illegal.

He submitted that the booth was just two km from Chengalpet town though Rule 8 of the National Highways Fee (Determination of Rates and Collection) Rules, 2008 stipulated there could not be any toll plaza within 10 km of cities.

He alleged that NHAI had strategically located the toll plaza at such a short distance so as to demand toll illegally and make inflated profits.

He noted that though the distance between two toll plazas should not be less than 60 km, that between Paranur and the next booth at Athur was about 47 km only.

The petitioner submitted that both these toll plazas are functioning contrary to Rule 8 (2) of the Fee Rules which says toll plazas cannot be set up in the same section within 60 km distance.

He said it was ‘distressing’ that authorities have sought to flout statutory rules with impunity.

Toll fees were being ‘arbitrarily’ revised and collected. They had also failed to provide adequate facilities to public.Not even an ambulance was made available at regular points, he said.

The petitioner noted that the toll fee was revised with effect from April 1 and wondered how this could be done when the model code is in force since Feb 22. Authorities should have obtained Election Commission’s consent before effecting a hike, he said, adding the revised rates were therefore unauthorised, unlawful and without legal sanction.

Noting that lakhs of Rupees of public money was being expropriated on an illegal basis, the PIL said “there is no freedom of movement without economic constraints”.

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