NEW DELHI, March 16: Lok Sabha member Vincent H Pala created a buzz in Parliament on Wednesday when he said that illegal check gates were operating on the national highways in Meghalaya which virtually work as ATMs for the state government and the lawmakers.
“Most MLAs including those in the government are all hand in gloves in operating such illegal check gates and minting money from hundreds of vehicles daily. To my surprise I found that such illegal check gates are operating in the presence of the state police,” he said.
A bewildered treasury bench wanted to know if those were check gates or toll gates to which Pala clarified: “These are all illegal check gates as per the norms.”
Pala had earlier claimed that majority of the MLAs have their own check gates on national highways. He claimed there are countless illegal check gates along Shillong-Nongstoin road, Shillong-Jowai road and Shillong-Guwahati road.
The plethora of illegal check gates have resulted in delayed travel and exorbitant rise of prices of all goods in the landlocked hill state. The commercial operators are shifting the illegal funds on the common consumers and passengers, he added.
Pala alleged that in his own constituency, there are 22 illegal check gates on a 200-km stretch of highway, located at distances of 5 or 10 km from each other. This is causing traffic jams and accidents, he said. “I have written letters and feel that an inquiry will bring the truth to light,” he added.
On Thursday, Pala also exposed the BJP-led NDA government alleging that the Ministry of Roads and Transport was fudging figures to make tall claims over the length of the roads it was constructing.
“Instead of the whole road the Ministry is calculating the road length based on lanes, which was not the case when the UPA Government was in power,” he said.
Pala also alleged that the vital Nongstoin-Guwahati road work was approved by the Ministry but stalled by the Prime Minister’s Office. Similarly, the Shillong-Haflong highway was approved by the Ministry but stopped by the PMO, he said. This is a very sorry state of affairs and the government should first sort out the intergovernmental rivalries.
Work on the national highway projects has been stalled in many parts of the country but mainly in the North East due to lack of clearance and the cost overruns. What the government is claiming on paper is not implemented on the ground in the North East, he said.
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