Toll keeps joyriders off Yamuna Expressway

Few vehicles seen on first day, authorities open slip road after farmers protest

The 165-km Yamuna Expressway was largely empty on Thursday as authorities brought toll charges into effect and police began monitoring the road for traffic violations.

"The rush has come down because it is a weekday. Five vehicles were issued tickets on Thursday. They were pulled up for not wearing seat belts," a policeman, posted at the Jewar toll plaza, said.

A large group of farmers from over 50 villages along the Expressway blocked traffic for several hours on Thursday morning, demanding that all slip roads be opened. Around 11 am, Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA) opened the Jewar slip road.

"We had sent an ultimatum to the Yamuna Authority saying that we would conduct a sit-in on the Expressway if the slip road was not opened by Thursday. We had informed police about the planned protest," said Chaudhry Mahendar Singh, state president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union.

Before Friday's crucial meeting that a senior Yamuna Authority official voiced confidence that the farmers' demands would be met. "We will open all slip roads that are on the Detailed Project Report (DPR) and speak to the operators about those that don't feature on the DPR," he said.

Singh said they would now push for the opening of the slip roads to Mirzapur and Chapargarh.

"We will meet with Yamuna Authority officials tomorrow and present three demands: no toll charge for farmers, completion of service roads at the earliest and opening of all slip roads on the Expressway," he said.

Motorists were annoyed at the lack of U-turns before toll plazas. "To make a U-turn, I have to pass through the toll plaza twice," said Vipin Sharma from Delhi, who had come to gauge the commercial viability of the expressway.

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