The Centre on Wednesday suspended the paying of toll taxes across all National Highways till midnight on November 11, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said. The move was implemented to ensure the smooth movement of traffic, the road transport and highways minister said on Twitter. Gadkari's announcement came a day after government discontinued Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, a move Prime Minister Narendra Modi said would help weed out corruption, black money and in turn, poverty and terrorism.
This came even as reports suggested that the Centre had taken the decision to withdraw the currency denominations six months ago. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Principal Secretary Nripendra Mishra, Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa, Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das and Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel were among the few people who knew about the plan.
After the announcement on Tuesday evening, the RBI said the decision was made as a result of the “growing menace of fake Indian currency notes in circulation” across the country. RBI Governor Urjit Patel, however, explained that there had been no security breach, but to the public, counterfeit currency notes would appear the same.
The decision has received mixed reactions so far. The Trinamool Congress has criticised the move with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee demanding that the Centre withdrew its “draconian decision”. Meanwhile, Congress leader and former Union finance minister P Chidambaram called for the quick replacement of the old notes with the new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes to cause “minimum problems for the poor and middle-class”. However, the Congress supported the demonetisation decision.