Having exposed six fraudulent government offices that illicitly obtained over Rs 18 crore from government funds. Now the Gujarat police filed an FIR on Monday against five individuals accused of operating a fake toll plaza. And extorting money from commuters in Morbi district.
In response to media reports revealing that the counterfeit toll booth operated for approximately one-and-a-half years without detection by the district administration, the authorities took action. The accused individuals constructed alternate roads to bypass the toll booth, charging passersby significantly less than the official toll tax.
So what is the matter?
For more than a year, a group of individuals deceived government officials and the public by establishing a fake toll plaza on private land. Bypassing the Bamanbore-Kutch national highway in Gujarat. Operating in Morbi, Gujarat, the fraudulent toll plaza, set up on private property. Charged half the standard toll rate and engaged in deceptive practices against both the police and prominent government authorities. Within the district for an extended period.
The manager of the authorized Vaghasia toll plaza for the national highway revealed that the individuals exploiting private land openly extorted substantial sums of money daily for 1.5 years. The culprits rerouted traffic through the land owned by the White House Ceramic Company, a defunct factory. And the Varghasia village. The allure of paying only half the toll tax enticed truck drivers to opt for this route. And the illicit toll collection activities went undetected for over a year.
Fake toll plaza Investigation started
In a media briefing, Gujarat minister Rushikesh Patel announced the initiation of an investigation. He emphasized that upon the investigation’s findings, they would take stringent measures against the wrongdoers, subjecting them to imprisonment.
Following the confirmation of the reports, the district administration promptly took action. And filed a First Information Report (FIR) with the Wankaner city police station later in the day. Officials noted that as the toll booth agency declined to lodge a complaint. The local police took on the role of the complainant.
The Culprits of Fake Toll Plaza
Someone lodged a First Information Report (FIR) against Amarshi Patel, Ravirajsinh Jhala, Harvijaysinh Jhala, Dharmendrasinh Jhala, Yuvrajsinh Jhala, all residents of Waghasia in Wankaner, and other unidentified individuals. The charges include extortion, criminal breach of trust, cheating, and various others.
Ravirajsinh, reportedly a retired army man, was among the accused who collected fees. Ranging from Rs 20 to Rs 200 from car owners to heavy truck drivers. Significantly lower than the actual toll tax of Rs 110 to Rs 595 for these vehicles. Morbi collector G T Pandya addressed the media later. Refuting the claim that the fake toll booth had been operational for over one-and-a-half years.
Pandya mentioned that the local administration promptly acknowledged the offence upon discovery. However, local leaders argued that they had submitted multiple applications to the local administration, including the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), without the administration taking any action.
The FIR outlines that the accused utilised a closed ceramic factory called White House, establishing a road to circumvent the Waghasiya toll plaza on the Bamanbore-Kutch national highway linking Morbi and Wankaner. They constructed another road for the traffic traveling from Wankaner to Morbi. According to locals, objections were never raised by commuters as they were charged significantly less than the official tax.
Police mentioned that representatives of Bamanbore Tollway Private Limited, holding the toll collection contract, declined to lodge a complaint, stating they lacked the authority.
This incident occurred shortly after uncovering a counterfeit government office in central Gujarat. Subsequent investigations into this case revealed six additional fraudulent offices in Dahod district, collectively embezzling over Rs 18 crore in government funds over the past couple of years. A retired IAS officer was recently apprehended by the police in connection with this matter.