STATE TIMES NEWSJAMMU: National Conference Provincial President, Devender Singh Rana on Tuesday sought exemption of toll tax during upcoming Amarnath Yatra in Jammu region also. “There seems no justification for levying toll tax at various toll posts from Lakhanpur to the base camps of Baltal and Pahalgam, while exempting toll at a particular Toll-Plaza,” Rana said in a statement, adding that the pilgrims thronging from various parts of the country have to cross several toll posts before entering into the Valley. He said that instead of taking a lopsided decision, the overall scenario should have been taken into consideration before ordering the exemption. The Provincial President hoped that the administration will take a call on the important issue earnestly, as the Yatra is beginning from July 1. This, he said, will go a long way in streamlining traffic by cutting huge jams at various toll collection centres besides providing respite to travelling pilgrims. Rana said that pilgrim tourism has emerged as a sustainable economic activity in the State and every incentive is needed to be provided to visiting people to give a fillip to it. He said that he had been insisting on waiving toll at various collection centres from Lakhanpur to holy township of Katra, the base camp of Mata Vaishno Devi, as nearly ten million pilgrims are visiting the shrine 24×7 round the year. Pilgrim tourism virtually sustained the economy during most difficult times in nineties and provided sustenance to a huge population, he added. “Unless incentivised, the tourism as also pilgrim tourism cannot flourish to a satisfactory level,” Rana said, adding that the administration should come out with a package in this regard to promote activity in scenic and spiritually blessed State. “To begin with, we urge the Governor Satya Pal Malik, who is also the Chairman of the Boards managing Shri Amarnath and Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Yatras, to issue necessary instructions for toll exemption during upcoming Yatra in Jammu region as well,” Rana demanded.
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