Vehicles will not be able to whiz past toll plazas, with the Maharashtra government clarifying on Wednesday that it will not scrap toll tax as this will cost it Rs 80,000 crore.
But the government said it is looking at ways to exempt light motor vehicles from paying toll.
However, experts say such an exemption will prove counter-productive — if smaller vehicles do not pay toll, the burden may fall on both the state and heavy vehicles such as trucks and buses.
The state’s move to not stop toll tax is based on a primary review it conducted. The state realised that buying back existing toll plazas from contractors will cost it around Rs 80,000 crore.
If the government has to stop collecting toll from smaller vehicles – currently 16 to 20% of the state’s total toll revenue – it would have to levy an additional amount on heavy motor vehicles and transport vehicles, public works department (PWD) officials have told the government in their primary report.
A senior minister said it would not be possible for the government to scrap the toll nakas, and seemed to do a U-turn on a pre-poll promise of making the state toll free.
“We had never assured to make the state toll free. Our party manifesto is open for all to check. We are, however, committed to bringing transparency in order to reduce the extra burden on taxpayers,” the minister said.
The government has appointed a committee headed by chief engineer of PWD CP Joshi, and other experts to advise it on how the toll tax can be revised.
“Some major toll nakas, including that of entry points to Mumbai, collect 80% from smaller cars. Such an exemption is not feasible. The additional taxes collected from transport vehicles would ultimately be recovered from the common people. This means the burden is being shifted from the middle-class vehicle owners to the weaker sections of the society,” said another official from the department, requesting anonymity.