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The TOLL LOOT!


My father, my grand father have surely paid for the National Highways by paying their taxes. Thus many National Highways were expanded, maintained and some new ones constructed out of their taxes! To LOOT the third generation for maintaining these OLD HIGHWAYS, is usurious.

When one traverses three segments of National Highways connecting Bangalore to Chennai, which are NH 46, NH 84 and NH 7, one feels that these Highways were infrastructure built through generations of activity. Activity of Indians paying their taxes, the Government acquiring land to expand those Highways and maintaining them out of these revenue receipts.

But somewhere along the line, we INDIANS are taken for a ride. The three NHs of 7, 46 and 84 consisting of around 280 Kilometres are divided between toll operators who are located at Krishnagiri, outskirts of Vaniyambadi, outskirts of Vellore, near Wallajahpet and finally at Sriperumbudur. These are the TOLL joints as one travels from Bangalore to Chennai. From Hosur to Krishnagiri is NH 7, then from Krishnagiri to outskirts of Ranipettai (near the Wallajapet toll) is NH46 and the last stretch from Wallajahpet to Chennai (Vanagaram) is NH 84.

These 280kms have been split up between these 5 toll operators. These Highways were built, rather renovated, on a BOT basis. They were to collect the toll upon completion of renovation and recover their cost.

From the 6th or 7th of June 2011, the rates of two tolls have been revised from Rs. 25 to Rs 60 and the other from Rs 35 to Rs 60. Each of these tolls collect tolls for usage of around 50 Kms. Which means per KM cost of using these tolls are Rs 1.20 per KM. Motorbikes, autorickshaws and ambulances are exempted. Which means only passenger cars, trucks, LCVs and other Heavy vehicles are tolled!

These roads were NOT acquired recently, they were existing roads which were through a bidding process allotted for laying and collection of tolls. These collections are not necessarily done by the companies which LAID THE ROADS. These companies which laid the roads have probably exited after selling their stake to another company, working out the REVENUE generatable from toll operations in the remainder of the years. This sudden revision of the toll rates took me by surprise. When asked, who were the toll operators one of the persons manning the Krishnagiri Toll said that RELIANCE Industries were operating the toll.

I see that these NATIONAL HIGHWAYS for which lands were acquired way back in the 50’s and 60’s are being handed over to these cash rich, well connected companies and allowed to LOOT from the helpless travelers. On the one hand it is the avowed policy of all the parties in power, therefore the Government of India, to create infrastructure facilities for free interaction and exchange of goods. Yet this LOOTING of passengers, who travel by cars is PREPOSTEROUS.

My fore fathers paid for the roads and now I pay for these fat cat companies, in the guise of maintenance! And these are limited to the NH in Tamil Nadu and Gujarat and Maharashtra where the traffic is enormous because of manufacturing and other trading activities. Whereas even though there are similar roads in other parts of the country they do not generate this level of income.

By usage of my car if the roads are eroded to the extent of Rs1.20 per KM, then the justification should be transparantly explained by mentioning the toll collections for the year, maintenance charges, salaries and other expenses and the profits made from these operations. Further, as these companies are prone to inflating their expenses on BOOKS and thereby showing REDUCED profits, their books should be audited by the CAG, as these are toll collectors who are stepping in to do the functions of the Government.

Sure PPP is an instrument of growth, but using that as a means to EXPLOIT succeeding generations is DESPICABLE to say the least! I hope the government would be rational in their toll collection in high activity states like Tamil Nadu and not use these for netting off the losses incurred in toll operations in sluggish, uneducated and feudal states of India.

It has been recently reported in the papers that in NH47 between Aroor and Edappally near Cochin-Ernakulam, there was a toll collection of Rs5, which was revised to Rs 15/-. The locals went to the toll plaza and got it vandalized.

Another instance is the Bangalore International Airport Ltd., who have taken objection to NH7 collecting toll from the taxi operators.

There is a Private Limited company called MEPL, who collect @ 45% of all toll collected in this country. Any effort to find out the persons behind this Private Limited Company from the Indian websites is in vain. One has to rely on REUTERS for dope on their activities. One can access this from the following link:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/20/markets-ratings-meptollraods-idUSWNA907320110520

Such is our transparency. The article is posted by me as a comment to this blog! As it is not uncommon for such articles to disappear, when found inconvenient by the Pvt. Ltd Company!

Finally, toll collected is a FEE and not a TAX. Only to the extent that the users have enjoyed “COLLECTIVELY” that the FEE is to be charged. But there seems to be an UNDUE HASTE by the Government to PULL OUT MONEY from the road users more like a TAX than as a FEE!

GOD HELP INDIA!

Alberuni & HISTORY


There is an interesting anecdote, maybe apocryphal, which goes as follows:-

There was a boy who told another boy, from another city, that his father dug and dug and dug the soil and they discovered cables running which belonged to times anterior to Graham Bell and that upon verification they found out that the telephone system was in use in their town prior to the claim by Graham Bell.

Upon hearing this, the other replied, ” How interesting! U know, that my father told me just a few days back, that his town’s-folk dug and dug and dug the ground and after many months of digging they found nothing and upon verification came to the conclusion, that their town was using the WIRELESS system prior to the time of the claim of invention of wireless by Marconi!”

Jokes apart, the anecdote reveals that our claims on science, history, statistics and such subjects shud have cold facts to sustain our premises, especially so when claims are being made. Otherwise it becomes just a claim to temporarily outwit other claims. We shud submit ourselves to the scrutiny of others, instead of telling others to have BELIEF or Faith in our presentations.

In INDIA, according to ALBERUNI (a historian who came with Mohd. of Ghazini), there were no historians in INDIA and consequently there were only Philosophies and MYTHS and no HISTORY.

There have been Fahien, Hieun Tsang, Kautilya and others of their ilk, who had left copious writings on the facts as seen by them, which in my view was sufficient to constitute history. Further, we as Indians (unlike the pompous Jews who had an exalted notion of their own importance in the world history!) have been modest in perception of our own importance and consequently led our day to day lives, without embarking on presentation of perceptions and calling them as HISTORY. So Alberuni’s statement may not be all that right.

WHAT is History?- is in itself a polemic. If i were to be asked, if the books written under the patronage of a Ruler were to constitute History (however impartial it may seem), i’d say an emphatic NO. In this 21st century, when information and knowledge have exploded beyond the imagination of man, there are many untold reasons for which people write. In those olden days why a Fahien or Hieun Tsang had to write and to what extent they benefited from such writings cannot be fathomed now. Consequently, where all they adjusted the facts to suit their paymasters, cannot be known.

THE WINNER WRITES HISTORY.

History also conceals the most disturbing areas. For example, the BOOK OF ESTHER in THE BIBLE, is the story about a woman called ESTHER saving the JEWS from utter destruction from the mischief planned by Haman, who was the chief minister to the emperor Xerxes (Ahaseurus(?sp.) in the KJV). The more important issue that shud be of concern is that how a Jewish woman cud be encouraged by another Jewish guy, called Mordecai, to become a co-wife of an INFIDEL called Xerxes? The Mosaic commandment proscribes the Jewry from wiving or giving in marriage to persons outside their community. Here she is “BEAUTY TREATED” by Heggai, and is sent to be the fodder for the lust of Xerxes and comes out triumphant as the Queen.

NOW how do we include this book in the holy BIBLE? After all the book of JUDITH was excluded on similar grounds(in the protestant Bible), but for the fact that the man, Holofernes, therein was merely a general and not an Emperor!! So, we romanticize the hole issue, oops- whole issue, and skim over the commandments and present a great history for the festival of PURIM.

Therefore HISTORY is not an impartial account of facts, but presentation of FACTS to ultimately lead the reader to an OBJECTIVE. AKBAR NAMA and BABUR NAMA are not meant to be impartial accounts of facts for the reader to arrive at his own conclusions, it is an effort to display the greatness of their subjects.

Even Boswell, was blinded by his admiration for Dr. Johnson. How else could we explain the taunts heaped on  the Scottish by Dr.Johnson? If in a Biography, a person can’t be impartial, how much worse wud it get, in the so called historical writings.

Alberuni, if i get my facts right, was in the entourage of Mohd. of Ghazini. The Mohd. we are talking of, had to have someone to narrate the exploits and obviously Alberuni was living off the munificence of the RAIDER. To pass off his writings as HISTORY, wud be a misnomer. Paens or Panegyric wud be a better classification of his works.

IT IS WORSE STILL, WHEN SUCH A PANEGYRIST as ALBERUNI , LOOKS AROUND FOR PAENS AND PANEGYRICS AND WHEN HE FINDS NONE, MAKES A BLATANT STATEMENT THAT INDIANS HAVE NO HISTORIANS OR SENSE OF HISTORY!!


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