New Delhi: The Union road ministry Monday said national highways will continue to remain toll-free till 18 November midnight in an attempt to ensure traffic is not disrupted after the sudden withdrawal of Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes.

This is the second time the government has extended the toll suspension across all 365 national highway toll plazas. The ministry has issued notice to all the concessionaires and other fee collection agencies regarding the same.

The road ministry had initially suspended toll till 11 November midnight and on Friday extended it till 14 November.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted that in order to save farmers and commoners, her government has decided not to impose any agricultural tax on the movement of trucks for the next three days as thousands of trucks carrying vegetables and other essential products are stuck at different state borders because they cannot pay toll.

According to S.P Singh, senior fellow at the Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training (IFTRT), the business of goods delivery services and full truck load carriers has come down to less than 20% and 50%, respectively, because almost 50% of the cargo bookings and delivery is of unaccounted and under-reported nature to avoid paying taxes, thus resulting in curtailment of the transport business drastically after the demonetization.

Singh further added that “the transport business has to be cleaned out of its extreme dearth of accountability and transparency in order to bring fair play and true competition in the market."

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