Bengaluru-Mysuru Expressway
Local authorities have employed AI-based cameras and interceptors to enforce speed limits on the road. File photo

Karnataka polls: Bengaluru-Mysuru Expressway toll is becoming a political hot potato for BJP

The newly opened Bengaluru-Mysuru Expressway is fast becoming a political hot potato in Karnataka ahead of the Assembly polls, with toll collection being a major issue.

Both Congress and Janata Dal (S) have hit the streets in protest against what they describe as a hefty toll in a short stretch of the Expressway.

Also ReadHow Bengaluru-Mysuru Expressway is changing travel in South India

The Congress party has launched a social media campaign with the hashtag #KiviMeleHoova, accusing the government of providing faulty roads, incorrect signboards, and inadequate facilities.

The Karnataka High Court too has taken suo motu cognisance of various media reports on the inconvenience caused to motorists on Bengaluru-Mysuru expressway on the first day of toll collection.

As per NHAI’s notification, car passengers will have to pay Rs 135 for a single trip on Bengaluru–Nidaghatta section. They have to pay Rs 205 for the return journey if they travel in 24 hours. The toll rate for mini-bus will be Rs 220 and for buses, it will be Rs 460 (single journey). Monthly passes (50 single trips) for a bus cost Rs 15,325.

On Thursday, Janata Dal (S) youth wing president Nikhil Kumaraswamy, who is also the party candidate from Ramanagara, led a protest in Bengaluru, demanding authorities to halt toll collection until the Bengaluru-Mysuru Expressway, along with two-lane service roads, was fully constructed.

Ramanagara, through which the Expressway passes, has been significant for both Congress and JDS, with the former having raised objections to the opening of the expressway and toll collection before necessary facilities were made available.

Also Read: Bengaluru-Mysuru Expressway bypasses toy town of Channapatna, crippling livelihoods

In response, CM Basavraj Bommai dismissed the Opposition’s claims, stating that people are aware of having to pay tolls when an expressway is built, and most services alleged to be absent were available.

Toll collection began on March 14, with complaints that the toll was high for those traveling shorter distances. Congress questioned how expenses could be passed on to commuters before the road was fully completed.

Also Read: Karnataka HC takes cognisance of chaos on Bengaluru-Mysuru e-way

The JDS and Congress are attempting to turn the issue into an electoral weapon against the BJP, with thousands of people using the road every day. Toll rates were announced in February, but the collection was postponed due to fears of protests. The six-lane Bengaluru-Mysuru expressway is expected to reduce travel time from 180 minutes to 75.

In an effort to expand the BJP’s influence in the districts of Ramanagara, Mandya, and Mysuru, which are connected by the Expressway, both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah visited Mandya.

The project was inaugurated weeks before the Assembly polls, with the expectation that it would aid the BJP in making gains, despite encountering unexpected difficulties last year due to heavy monsoon rains.

Meanwhile, Mysuru MP Pratap Simha said it would be not appropriate to collect full toll from Ramanagara and Channapatna travellers. He said that he has spoken to NHAI officials to rectify the problem in toll collection. The MP added that owing to court cases, service road work has got delayed.

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