After facing flak for its U-turn on closing down toll collection points in Maharashtra, the state government, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is trying to ensure that they offer some respite to motorists.
State’s public works minister Chandrakant Patil — on the backfoot after opening the Kharghar toll naka— on Thursday said his government will come up with a comprehensive toll policy that could completely waive off toll on cars and pass the burden on to owners of heavy vehicles.
He also said all toll agreements of the past 15 years were being studied by a committee. If the agreements have been violated, the toll booths will get cancelled, he said.
“We are waiting for the Centre’s toll policy. Once that gets announced in the next two months, we will also announce a similar state-level policy. We are seriously considering whether the toll burden on four-wheelers and private motorists can be waived off and passed on to heavy vehicles,” said Patil.
The minister told HT, “We are studying toll agreements to see if there have been any violation of the terms or toll is being collected long after the project money has been recovered. We will move high court in such cases.”
A group set up by the state government in December is currently studying all past toll agreements. This group includes chief engineers of all divisions of the PWD, apart from MSRDC. It met for the first time this week.
“There is scope of introducing clauses in some toll agreements to reduce the burden. We are carrying out seven-day inspection of traffic at all these tolls booths. One of the suggestions has also been that the government pay toll each month for every vehicle that passes by,” said a senior official and member of this committee.
Patil, however, ruled out the option that the Kharghar toll be down. “The builder had moved court and we had no choice but to open the Kharghar toll booth, as 98% of the work was completed. We had not opened this toll booth for two months despite the court order. However, we have exempted five villages from the toll, the entire industrial area and plan to exempt another 32 villages,” he said.