Social worker Anna Hazare has given the state government a deadline of one month to review its toll collection policy, which he claimed affects vehicle users at toll plazas across Maharashtra.
“There are severe discrepancies in the way that toll is collected in the state. The existing toll policy needs to be reviewed to ensure that the general population is not exploited,” Hazare said in Ralegan Siddhi, after a meeting with a team of officials from the public works department (PWD) on Tuesday.
The anti-graft activist had launched an agitation in October 2010 to protest against the arbitrary toll collection in the state after growing criticism of the policy, where people were being charged toll for badly maintained roads. There had also been cases of toll being collected despite the government recovering the entire cost of a road project.
A team, led by PWD secretary Dhananjay Dhawad, assured Hazare that the government had sanctioned all his demands and the chief minister personally approved them.
After the meeting, Hazare said PWD officials told him that his major demands of centralised computerisation of all toll plazas and the electronic display of all the information at every toll plaza have been sanctioned by the government.
“From now on, every toll collection centre will have a electronic display, which will enable people to see the amount that has been collected from the Centre and the time period during which the toll will be collected,” Hazare said.
PWD officials assured Hazare that all the improvements are expected to be implemented within a month. “We have informed Anna about all the changes that the government is planning in the toll policy. We will install electronic signboards on all toll stations as per Anna’s demand,” a senior PWD official who was part of the meeting said.
Hazare warned the officials he would stage an agitation if his demands were not implemented. He also called for a complaint redressal mechanism against the contractors.
‘Team Anna’s agenda is anti-Congress’
The state Congress, including its youth wing, said, on Tuesday, that Hazare’s call to reject Congress would not bother the party in the forthcoming local self-government elections. “All these days, Anna’s agitation was not against an individual or party but Tuesday’s press conference proved that the people around him have a specific anti-Congress agenda,” said state Congress spokesperson Anant Gadgil, after Hazare’s media conference at Ralegan Siddhi.
Beginning this December, around 195 municipal councils, 10 municipal corporations, including Mumbai and Thane and 27 zilla parishads, will go to polls. The government’s performance – both in urban and rural areas – will be put to test two years after the Assembly polls. “Our party has processed the Lokpal bill and now it requires the support of the other parties to go through, he said.