Activists in DK, Udupi to hold meeting to discuss future plans as NHAI hikes toll fee at Hejamadi from Dec 1

News Network
November 25, 2022

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) on November 24 has issued revised user fee rates at Hejamadi toll gate in Udupi district after the merger of Dakshina Kannada’s Surathkal toll plaza on NH 66.

The revised use fee rate will come into effect from December 1.

The present fee for a single trip at Surathkal plaza for Light Motor Vehicles (LMV) like car, jeep, van etc is Rs 60 and Rs 40 at Hejamadi plaza. After the merger of Surathkal gate with that of Hejamadi, the toll for LMV at Hejamadi will be Rs 100. 

The present fee for return trips for LMV at Surathkal is Rs 90 and Rs 65 at Hejamadi. With the new user fee, the return trips for LMV at Hejamadi will be Rs 155. The present fee for monthly pass valid for 50 single trips for LMV at Surathkal plaza is Rs 2,050 and Rs 1,410 at Hejamadi. After the merger, fee for monthly pass valid for 50 single trips for LMV at Hejamadi will be hiked to Rs 3,460.

The buses, trucks and other heavy vehicles will also have to pay the toll of Surathkal plaza at Hejamadi after the merger. Buses that are paying Rs 6,940 and Rs 4,765 for monthly pass for 50 single trips at Surathkal and Hejamadi respectively will have to pay Rs 11,705 at Hejamadi after the merger. 

While oversized vehicles (seven or more axles) that were paying Rs 13,250 and Rs 9,100 for monthly pass for 50 single trips at Surathkal and Hejamadi respectively will have to pay Rs 22,350 after the merger at Hejamadi.

NHAI project director H S Linge Gowda, in a letter to the Deputy Commissioner of Udupi, has stated that the calculation has been done as per the National Highways Fee (determination of rates and collection) Amendment Rules, 2010 and National Highways Fee (determination of rates and collection) Amendment Rules, 2014.

“Based on the continuous request by the government of Karnataka, local public/VIP references, the competent authority has accorded approval for merger of Surathkal toll plaza with adjacent Hejamadi toll plaza. Accordingly, user fee for Surathkal toll plaza will now be charged at Hejamadi toll plaza by adding toll fee for both the stretches,” the project director said.

The NHAI has requested the Udupi district administration to provide necessary support including police protection to ensure that there will be no law and order issues at Hejamadi after the merger of Surathkal toll gate.

Referring to NHAI Chairperson’s letter to Chief Secretary of Government of Karnataka dated October 29, he said “there is a need to ensure that there will not be any disruption or stoppage to toll collection at Hejamadi toll plaza and in case there is any disruption/stoppage of toll collection, the losses on this account shall be reimbursed by State government as per State Support Agreement to NHAI.”

Toll Virodhi Horata Samithi convener Muneer Katipalla said that the indefinite day and night dharna that entered the 29th day on Friday will end only after toll collection is stopped at Surathkal.
On NHAI’s decision to collect the toll of Surathkal at Hejamadi, Katipalla said that a meeting of all like minded organisations from Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts will be held soon to discuss the future plans.

Terming it as an anti-people decision, Katipalla said “the NHAI has decided to collect exorbitant fees at Hejamadi. Is there no value for the toll collected at Surathkal in the last seven years?” he sought to know.

“MP and MLAs failed to understand the feelings and the hardship of people. People from undivided Dakshina Kannada should raise their voice. It has now been proved beyond any doubt that BJP MPs and MLAs have no experience in governance,” said Katipalla.

With the merger and revision of user fee, the exemption of toll given for private vehicles with KA 19 registration at Surathkal will no longer be valid after December 1 at Hejamadi. 


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News Network
September 11,2023


New Delhi, Sept 11: Trade, economy, defence, and cultural cooperation were the main topics of discussion between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud during the latter's State visit today.

During the high-profile meeting today at Delhi's Hyderabad House, the two leaders co-chaired the first leaders' meeting of the Strategic Partnership Council, a bilateral agreement between India and Saudi Arabia signed by the two nations in Riyadh in 2019.

"For India, Saudi Arabia counts as one of its closest and biggest strategic partners," PM Modi said. "India-Saudi Arabia partnership crucial for stability, welfare of region and world."

"We are adding a new dimension to our ties in tune with changing times. We have identified several initiatives to take our close partnership to the next level," he added.

The leaders assessed the progress of the two ministerial committees of the Strategic Partnership Council, namely the Political, Security, Social and Cultural Cooperation Committee and the Economy and Investments Cooperation Committee. They also discussed all aspects of bilateral relations, including political, security, defence, trade, economy, culture, and people-to-people ties. Additionally, they discussed regional and international issues of mutual interest.

Prince Salman's 2nd State Visit

The Saudi Arabian Crown Prince was accorded a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan at 10 am, ahead of his meeting with PM Modi at 11 am.

"I am very glad to be here in India. I want to congratulate India for the G20 Summit," the Crown Prince said. 

After concluding his engagements with PM Modi and other dignitaries, Prince Salman will meet President Droupadi Murmu at Rashtrapati Bhavan at 6:30 PM before departing from New Delhi at 8:30 PM.

This is Prince Salman's second State visit to India.

During the two-day G20 Summit in New Delhi, Saudi Arabia was one of the signatories to the ambitious India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor.

The initiative, seen by many as a potential alternative to China's Belt and Road Initiative, was jointly announced by PM Modi and the leaders of the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Italy, and the European Union on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

"Yesterday, we took a decision to start a historic economic corridor between India, West Asia and Europe. This corridor will not only connect two countries but also help in providing economic growth, and digital connectivity between Asia, West Asia and Europe," PM Modi said. 

Once completed, the project can serve as a modern-day Silk Road that functioned as the central trade route facilitating economic partnerships, political alliances, and cultural integration across continents. 

Prime Minister Modi also cited Saudi Arabia's 'Vision 2030' initiative, an all-encompassing nationwide reform programme launched in 2016 for the economic, cultural and architectural development of the Middle Eastern country.

"Under your leadership and Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia has seen tremendous economic growth and I congratulate you for that," PM Modi said. 

India-Saudi Arabia Ties

India and Saudi Arabia have a long history of cordial and cooperative relations, with extensive people-to-people ties. According to government data, bilateral trade between the two countries reached an all-time high of USD 52.75 billion in fiscal year 2022-23.

PM Modi during his 2019 visit to Riyadh had said that India and Saudi Arabia have a Joint Committee on Defence Cooperation (JCDC) that meets regularly and that the two countries have identified a number of areas of mutual interest and cooperation in the field of defence and security.

The two economic powerhouses are also major trading partners. India is Saudi Arabia's second-largest trading partner, while Saudi Arabia is India's fourth-largest. The two countries have a strong partnership in the energy sector, with India importing a significant amount of oil from Saudi Arabia.


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News Network
September 19,2023


New Delhi, Sept 19: In a major embarrassment to India, the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the Canadian parliament on Monday that his country’s security agencies had “credible” intelligence that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government of India was behind the June 2023 murder of a pro-Khalistan leader in British Columbia, Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

Trudeau’s charge was followed up by an official announcement from foreign minister Melanie Joly that Canada had expelled a senior Indian diplomat.

“Over the past number of weeks, Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the Government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar,” Trudeau told the House of Commons, adding that he raised the issue with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in “no uncertain terms”.

He asserted that “any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty”.

So far, the Canadian government has not made public any of the evidence it has for its claim of an Indian government hand in Nijjar’s killing.

Joly’s office said that the expelled Indian diplomat is Pavan Kumar Rai, identified by them as the head of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s foreign intelligence agency, in Canada. A 1997 batch Indian Police Service officer, he was posted to Ottawa as minister (eco, coordination, community affairs) in the Indian high commission.

It is likely that India will also expel a Canadian diplomat in a reciprocal move.

In a statement on Tuesday morning, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said it rejected the allegations made by Canada’s prime minister and foreign minister. “Allegations of Government of India’s involvement in any act of violence in Canada are absurd and motivated,” the statement said.

The statement also confirmed Trudeau’s claim that he had brought up this allegation with Modi. “Similar allegations were made by the Canadian Prime Minister to our Prime Minister, and were completely rejected,” MEA’s statement said.
India also alleged that Canada had sympathised with Khalistani terrorists and was trying to deflect from the real issue with these allegations. “Such unsubstantiated allegations seek to shift the focus from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have been provided shelter in Canada and continue to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The inaction of the Canadian Government on this matter has been a long-standing and continuing concern,” the statement reads. “That Canadian political figures have openly expressed sympathy for such elements remains a matter of deep concern.”

India’s statement 

CBC News reported that Trudeau had already briefed “the leaders of some of Canada’s closest allies about the case, including British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. President Joe Biden.”

Joly also stated that she will be raising the assassination issue with her G7 counterparts at the United Nations in New York on Monday evening.

White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the US is “deeply concerned” about Canada’s allegations. “We remain in regular contact with our Canadian partners. It is critical that Canada’s investigation proceed and the perpetrators be brought to justice,” Watson said.

Before the Ministry of External Affairs’ public statement, the Globe and Mail reported that the Indian government had denied all responsibility for Nijjar’s shooting and was insisting that pro-Khalistan activists in Canada had misled Canadian investigators. The newspaper said it had learned of this Indian response from sources that it was unable to identify “as they could face prosecution under the Security of Information Act” for discussing the issue.

Earlier in June, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who headed the pro-Khalistan outfits Khalistan Tiger Force and the Canadian arm of Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), was shot dead at a parking lot of a gurdwara in Surrey, Canada. He was wanted for the shooting of a priest in Punjab and was the third pro-Khalistan activist to die abroad in a month and half. Immediately after his death, his supporters had claimed that the Indian government was behind the killing.

Relations between India and Canada have been tense over the activities of pro-Khalistian groups in Canada and Ottawa’s perception that New Delhi was interfering in its internal affairs. The meeting between Trudeau and Modi last week at the G20 was visibly frosty, going by the scowls on display during the photo-op and the divergent statements each side issued.

This is the first time in recent memory that any foreign government, barring Pakistan, has directly accused New Delhi of being involved in an act of violence on their territory, let alone a murder.

At the same time, allegations that Indian security forces and intelligence agents have acted abroad in contravention of international law have been made recently in two high profile cases. 
The first concerned the capture and rendition of Sheikha Latifa, daughter of the ruler of Dubai, by Indian special forces on the high seas off Goa in March 2018, and the second the attempted abduction of fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi in Antigua in May 2021.

Trudeau’s appeal

Government sources cited by the Globe and Mail newspaper in Canada privately ruled out the severing of diplomatic relations with India but said Ottawa was considering measures to respond to what it considers a serious violation of Canadian sovereignty.

Trudeau also told Canadian MPs that India was urged “to get to the bottom of the matter” when top Canada’s intelligence and security officials “declared [their]–  deep concerns” to New Delhi.

“I also expect it (India) to reiterate that its position on extra-judicial operations in another country is clearly and unequivocally in line with international law,” he said. “It is contrary to the fundamental rules by which free, open, and democratic societies conduct themselves.”

Trudeau told parliament that he had already briefed Canada’s opposition leaders about the Indian government’s involvement. The opposition in Canada has stood by the Canadian government in its stance.

“These allegations, if true, are an outrageous violation of Canada’s sovereignty. More disturbing is that this was perpetrated by another democracy,” shadow foreign affairs minister Michael Chong said.

“If these allegations are true, they represent an outrageous affront to Canada, to Canada’s sovereignty. Our citizens must be safe from extrajudicial killings of all kinds, most of all, from foreign governments,” Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre was quoted by the Globe and Mail as saying.  “Canadians deserve to be protected on Canadian soil. We call on the Indian government to act with utmost transparency as authorities investigate this murder, because the truth must come out.” “Let us lock arms and join hands in condemning this murder, standing with the family and the friends of this victim. Let’s put aside our difference to stand up for the rule of law. One law for all our people,” CBC reported him saying.

New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh reacted to Trudeau’s disclosure by saying the Modi government has pursued “division, violence, persecution” and was “attacking those who are critical” of it.

Canada’s public safety minister Dominic LeBlanc announced that David Vigneault, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and Trudeau’s national security adviser, Jody Thomas, had also recently visited India several times to discuss the assassination.

The Canadian prime minister was in India for the G-20 summit, during which he had short and tense meeting with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He was the only leader who didn’t attend the official banquet hosted by the Indian president on Saturday evening.

During the meeting on Sunday (September 10), the Indian readout said that Modi raised “strong concerns” over the activities of pro-Khalistan extremist groups. Trudeau told reporters that he had raised the issue of “foreign interference” with the Indian leader.

Earlier this month, the Indian ambassador to Canada had revealed that Ottawa had sought a pause “within the last month” on negotiation for a free trade agreement, but had refused to give any reasons.

Last week, Canada postponed a pre-scheduled trade mission which was to be led by Minister Mary Ng for five days from October 9 in Mumbai. There was no official explanation given for the postponement.

Quoting a Canadian government source, CBC reports that Trudeau’s NSA, who was in Delhi for the G20, “quietly” flew to London instead of Ottawa where she “informed the UK government that Canada’s relations with India were about to get worse now that Canada had credible evidence linking India’s government to Nijjar’s death, the source said.”

India has summoned the Canadian high commissioner at least twice this year to protest the activities of Khalistan activists in Canada. In March, India protested the “actions of separatist and extremist elements against our diplomatic Mission and Consulates in Canada” after rallies organised by them. In July, the Ministry of External Affairs again summoned the Canadian high commissioner over the issue of pro-Khalistan posters – bearing photos of Indian diplomats – that accused the Indian government of being behind the killing of H Nijjar.


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News Network
September 20,2023


United Nations, Sept 20: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan raised the issue of Kashmir during his address to world leaders at the high-level 78th session of the UN General Assembly session.

"Another development that will pave the way for regional peace, stability and prosperity in South Asia will be the establishment of a just and lasting peace in Kashmir through dialogue and cooperation between India and Pakistan,” Erdogan said in his address to the General Debate Tuesday.

"As Turkiye, we will continue to support the steps to be taken in this direction,” he said.

His comment comes weeks after he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in New Delhi during which both the leaders discussed strengthening trade and infrastructure relations.

Erdogan said it was a matter of pride that India was playing a role at the United Nations Security Council. He said he favoured making five permanent and 15 'temporary' members as permanent members of the UN Security Council.

"Those 20 (5+15) should be permanent members of the UNSC in rotation. But as you know, the world is bigger than five. When we say the world is larger than five, what we mean is that it's not only about the US, UK, France, China and Russia," he said.

In recent years, the Turkish leader has referred to the issue of Kashmir in his address to world leaders at the high-level UN General Assembly session.

Last year, Erdogan raked up the issue of Kashmir during his address to world leaders at the high-level UN General Assembly session here.

“India and Pakistan, after having established their sovereignty and independence 75 years ago, they still haven't established peace and solidarity between one another. This is much unfortunate. We hope and pray that a fair and permanent peace and prosperity will be established in Kashmir,” Erdogan had said.

In 2020, Erdogan in his pre-recorded video statement to the General Debate had made a reference to Jammu and Kashmir. India had at that time termed it as “completely unacceptable”, saying Turkey should learn to respect the sovereignty of other nations and reflect on its own policies more deeply.


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