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Facing stiff opposition to the opening of the toll gate a Raha in Nagaon district of Assam, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has written to the Assam government stating that the toll gate is not illegal as claimed by certain organisations.

In the letter addressed to chief secretary TY Das, the NHAI said the toll plaza on National Highway 37 at Raha was “not at all illegal” as mentioned in the memorandum submitted by some groups.

Several groups alleged that the toll gate, which is within 2-km radius of Raha town, is illegal as according to government norms a toll gate can’t be constructed within 10-km radius of a township.

In the letter, the NHAI also sought administrative support of the state government for resumption of toll collection at the gate which has been temporarily suspended following protests by various organisations.

The NHAI temporarily shut down the toll gate on Sunday in the wake of the protests, road blockades and submission of a memorandum to the Nagaon district administration by 29 organisations, including the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad, All Assam Koch Rajbongshi Students’ Union and the All Assam Tai Ahom Students’ Union.

The protesters alleged that the toll gate was set up in the town area, violating a rule that no toll gate can be built within a distance of 10km from a town or a municipality area. The toll is located at Ward 7 of Raha town.

The group further alleged that the rates fixed for vehicles were exorbitant.

In the letter to Das, the NHAI stated that according to a gazette notification issued by the Union ministry of road transport and highways in exercise of the power conferred by Section 9 of the National Highways Act, 1956 and the National Highways (Rate of fees) Rules, 1997 where in Section 8, Location of Toll Plaza (1), Part 3 it is stated that “where a section of national highway, permanent bridge, bypass or tunnel, as the case may be, is constructed within the municipal or town area limits or within 5km from such limits, primarily for use of the residents of such municipal or town area, the toll plaza may be established within the municipal or town area limits or within a distance of 5km from such limits”.

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