Skip to main content
xYOU DESERVE INDEPENDENT, CRITICAL MEDIA. We want readers like you. Support independent critical media.

Jammu Chamber Calls for Shutdown Against Sarore Toll Plaza, Installation of Smart Meters

The region’s leading trade body has called for a strike on August 26, with other business associations, civil society groups, political parties supporting it.
Jammu Chamber Calls for Shutdown Against Sarore Toll Plaza, Installation of Smart Meters

Representational image. | Image courtesy: YouTube

Srinagar: Amid growing protests, the Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) has called for a strike on August 26 against the ongoing installation of smart meters and functioning of the toll plaza at Sarore in Samba district along the Jammu-Pathankot highway.

The call was given by Jammu’s leading traders body on Thursday that was supported by other business associations and civil society group, including Jammu Bar Association.

Since the past week, many of these groups and trade associations and political parties have protested against the functioning of toll plaza, that the locals say, has been operating “illegally”.

JCCI president Arun Gupta told the media that the decision to observe a shutdown was taken during a meeting of various market, trade associations and transport unions, including Trader Federation Warehouse, Retailers Federation, Tanker Association, Dhaba Union, Hardware, Paint & Sanitary Dealer Association, Jammu Chemist Association, All Jammu Hotel and Lodges Association and president Brick Kiln Owner Association.

“The representatives of associations who participated in the meeting were of the opinion that Jammu Bandh was the only solution to get our issues resolved,” he said.

Gupta urged people to observe a complete shutdown to send a message indicating that the government in the Union territory is working “against the people’s interest”. Gupta also said that he had taken up the issues regarding excess billing after installation of smart meters and demanded that installation should be stopped immediately as the digital meters were functioning properly.

Trade leader and former JCCI president Rakesh Gupta in a statement argued that Minister of Road Transport and Highways of India, Nitin Gadkari, stated on the floor of the Lok Sabha in March 2022 that any toll plazas within 60 km of another toll plaza were operating “illegally” and should be shut down within three months.

“I regret to say that the statement and the promise made by the worthy minister has not at all been implemented as far as the toll plaza at Sarore is concerned being only 43 km from Bann toll plaza on NH 44 even after a lapse of almost 17 months till date,” he said.

The trade leader also appealed to the Chief Justice of J&K to take suo motu cognizance and issue necessary directions to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to permanently remove this toll plaza at Sarore. 

Several members of the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (NC) youth body on Friday held a protest march against what they termed “arbitrary and unjust” toll plazas and installation of smart meters at a time, the protesters said amid slogans against the ruling dispensation, when Jammu is going through an economic crisis which can be discerned through the unemployment rate that is constantly increasing.

Several members of the Yuva Rajput Sabha (YRS) were arrested by the police on Monday amidst a protest against the toll plaza. Many including the regional parties are now demanding their release. The demands of people in Jammu were also backed by former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, who voiced her concerns regarding the toll taxes levied at Sarore.

In a tweet, the president of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) slammed the Government of India (GOI) for “excessive” toll charges that she claimed were burdening the people of Jammu.

She said that despite the ongoing protests, there has been no apparent response or resolution to address the issue adding that the toll tax system is thriving due to an alleged unspoken approval from higher authorities.

"GOI is fleecing people of Jammu by extorting exorbitant sums of money in the guise of toll taxes at Sarore. Protests are being carried out against this anti-people action yet there is no response or redressal in sight. The toll tax mafia is getting away with it because it seems to have the tacit approval of the powers that be. Request @nitin_gadkariji to look into this," she tweeted on August 23.

Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.

Subscribe Newsclick On Telegram