City activists have threatened to file a criminal case against chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and MSRDC minister Eknath Shinde for allegedly favouring the toll operator on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway while it fleeces motorists.
According to the activists, the toll operator has already recovered the estimated revenue two-and-a-half-years before their contract ends. They have threatened to file the case against the CM if the government fails to “revoke” the toll contract on the expressway.
The toll operator IRB had secured the rights to collect the toll on the 94-km expressway till March 31, 2019 after making an upfront payment Rs918 crore in 2004. “As per the contract, the expected toll revenue till 2018-19 was Rs2,869 crore. But as per the figures provided by the contractor, they (IRB) have crossed that figure in October 2016. Between 2004 and December 2016, the toll operator has collected Rs 2,923 crore,” toll activist Sanjay Shirodkar claimed.
RTI activist Vivek Velankar said that he had informed Fadnavis’ office about the “excess recovery” of the toll. “I have mailed the required documents to the CM on November 26 and have been following up, but so far there has been no action,” he said. Here Shirodkar added, “If the government does not revoke the contract within 15 days, we will file a complaint with the Anti-Corruption Bureau against the CM, MSRDC minister and the responsible officials under the Prevention of Corruption Act and conspiracy-abetment.” He added, “We can even take this matter to court, if required.”
IRB, however, claimed that the toll collection on the Expressway is being done as per the concession agreement. “IRB has shared all relevant factual information with the respective authorities in state government from time to time,” a spokesperson from IRB Infrastructure Developers Ltd said.
Meanwhile, MSRDC officials said that there has been no excess recovery. Kiran Kurundkar, joint managing director, MSRDC said, “The toll collection is in line with the concession agreement. There is no clause to terminate the contract if the contractor reaches the target before its estimated time.” A senior official said, “The contractor took the risk of borrowing money considering it was India’s first expressway and quoted a price after due diligence to bag the contract. Now, whatever the contractor earns after meeting the target is their profit.”