Commuters who wait for hours at the Anand Nagar toll plaza in Mulund, near the northern suburbs of Mumbai, accused the authorities of not acknowledging the “yellow line” rule, which waives toll if there is a traffic congestion beyond the yellow line at toll collection points.
Residents called it a poll gimmick and took to Twitter to express their angst through videos and comments.
A yellow line is drawn by the authorities at a short distance from the toll posts. Last year, during the Assembly session, PWD minister Eknath Shinde had said that vehicles that wait in a queue beyond the line during traffic jams would be exempted from paying toll.
The Anand Nagar toll plaza, which serves as an entry point to Mumbai is choc-o-block during peak hours. Vehicles need to wait in queues that stretch over a kilometre to pay the toll in the morning and evening. Commuters called the ordeal a nightmare that they need to face everyday.
Rohan Nair, a resident of Hiranandani, said, “Last year, we had undertaken a campaign to stop toll collection, after Shinde promised that it will not be collected from vehicles that go beyond the yellow line. Soon after the announcement, toll plazas were shut down for a month because of demonetisation. In January, during elections, motorists were exempted from paying toll when the traffic was heavy. However, immediately after elections, the toll authority claimed that they did not receive any directive or circular from the government.”
Nair, along with a few others, tweeted about their ordeal at the plaza. He has also uploaded videos of toll authorities claiming that the minister had not given them any such directives.
“The Electronic Toll Control system or the RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) system, which gives way to pass holders, is no longer functioning. We have been crossing the naka for years but there has been no improvement. It takes around 45 minutes to travel from Kopri bridge to the toll plaza,” Nair added.
Some commuters said that the long wait did not only eat into their time, but also fuel and money, thus increasing the pollution level.
Sandesh Sonawane, a resident of Masunda Lake, said, “The road is full of potholes. If you are collecting toll, at least make sure that the roads are better maintained. I waste more than an hour commuting on this stretch every day. The time could be put to better use.”
An authority from the toll plaza said, “We have heard about the yellow line rule, however, there is still no clarity about it. The minister had only announced it and we did not receive any circular.”
Eknath Shinde said that he regularly visits the posts to ensure that the yellow line rule is being followed. Shinde, “If the authorities are not following the rule, I will conduct a meeting with them and enforce it at the earliest.”
Toll plazas in Thane
The Anand Nagar toll plaza is situated towards the east side of the city along the Eastern Express Highway. With increase the number of vehicles, the toll plaza sees lakhs commute from this toll post. Shiv Sena-BJP had presented a toll-free Thane as their main agenda during the Assembly elections, however, all the entry points to Thane are still blocked by toll plazas. All these tolls are operated by Mumbai Entry Point (MEP). Thane residents are mostly hit by the Mumbai and Kharegaon toll. The toll to Anand Nagar toll plaza started in 2003 and was supposed to end in 2017.
Over two lakh residents had campaigned against the toll plazas before the civic polls. They had protested by blinking their headlights at the Anand Nagar post. They were promised that the toll nakas would be closed or the yellow line rule will be applicable but this did not happen.
@deepak77: @mieknathshinde plead advice If the yellow line concept at tollplaza is removed.
@sajinkrjnair: Benefit and Betterment of the citizens and tax payers. So much money is available. Why cant we have smooth and clean roads?
@rohannair: Thanekars are suffering ddaily just commuting 2 work. Toll Plaza creats 1 Km traffic jam @mieknathshinde
Long queue of vehicles at the post
Non-functioning RFIDs inconvenience commuters with passes
Fuel and time is wasted.
Increase in pollution because of the constant honking and emission of vehicular pollutants
Bad quality of road near toll naka