From today, private vehicles will have to pay toll on Rajasthan highways

As part of their statewide agitation, BJP protested the toll tax on private vehicles on state highways

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Toll tax collection from private vehicles on state highways has begun again from Friday midnight in Rajasthan, 18 months since it was revoked by the previous BJP-led government in the state.

Private vehicles were exempted from paying toll tax on state highways in April last year in Rajasthan, but the Congress government in the state decided to reverse the decision for maintenance and repairing of roads.

A notification for toll tax collection was issued by the government on Thursday, following which the exercise was started from midnight.

The state government, in a statement, said repairing and maintenance of the highways were being affected due to the previous regime's decision, which was taken "hurriedly and without consideration", adding that this was being done in public interest and to ensure that the exchequer was not burdened.

Since the former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) regime, led by Vasundhara Raje, exempted private vehicles from paying toll tax on 55 state highways, it led to a loss of Rs 172 crore in toll tax collection, as compared to financial year 2017-18, which had an adverse impact on road repair and construction works, according to the statement.

Before the exemption was accorded to private vehicles, toll tax collection on various state highways fetched Rs 851 crore annually and these highways were being properly maintained, the government said.

The collection of toll tax from commercial vehicles will continue.

After the notification was issued, the BJP hit out at the Congress government in the state, claiming that it had "betrayed the people".

State BJP chief Satish Poonia said the previous government had provided relief to people with its decision, but the current government was taking "anti-people decisions".

The saffron party has demanded that the government withdraw the notification.

As part of their statewide agitation, the opposition BJP here on Friday held a demonstration against the Congress government's decision of charging toll tax from private vehicles on state highways.

The party held demonstrations across the state at district headquarters and submitted memorandums addressed to the Governor, demanding the withdrawal of the decision.

In Jaipur, the party workers led by district BJP president Mohal Lal Gupta handed over a representation to Collector Jagroop Singh Yadav.

Addressing the workers, MLA and former minister Kalicharan Saraf said people were feeling cheated as the Congress government in the state had stalled the pace of development in nine months of its rule.

He said the previous Vasundhara Raje government had given the relief from toll tax on state highways to private vehicles but the Congress government betrayed people on the issue.