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Quality of roads will decide toll contractors’ payments in Maharashtra

The contractors are paid compensation as the state government has waived toll on smaller vehicles, as promised by the ruling BJP during the elections.

mumbai Updated: Sep 03, 2017 00:22 IST
Manasi Phadke
Manasi Phadke
Hindustan Times
Mumbai news,Sion Panvel highway,toll booths
The state government has especially been having a tough time with the Sion-Panvel Highway.(Hindustan Times)

To ensure that contractors maintain the quality of tolled roads, where small passenger vehicles have been exempted from paying the levy is maintained, the Maharashtra government has decided to link the contractor’s compensation for such a toll exemption to the condition of the road.

The contractors are paid compensation as the state government has waived toll on smaller vehicles, as promised by the ruling BJP during the elections.

The state public works department has decided to measure the roughness index, which determines the ride quality of such roads, once every three months. The department will release the compensation due to the contractor only if the roughness index is up to the mark, as per the state government’s new norms that the cabinet agreed upon in a meeting last month.

An official from the public works department said, “If the roughness index is not as per standards, the road will be repaired at the risk and cost of the contractor, and the expenditure will be deducted from the compensation amount payable to the contractor.”

He further added, if the road surface is damaged or there are large potholes, the state government will give the contractor 15 days to initiate repairs or reconstruction, failing which the public works department will take up the repairs and deduct the cost from the contractor’s payables. “The cost determined by the concerned executive and superintending engineers will be considered as final,” the official said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Maharashtra government in 2015 closed 12 toll booths across the state, and exempted light vehicles (cars and SUVs) and state transport buses from paying toll at 53 others.

The state government has especially been having a tough time with the Sion-Panvel Highway, which is under a build, operate, transfer contract, after the government decided to exempt light vehicles and state transport buses from paying toll at the toll booth in Kamothe. The project is currently sub-judiced.

Every monsoon, the surface of the 24.89-kilometre road gets damaged, pockmarked with craters, majorly disrupting traffic, while the state government and the contractor fight over who should take up the repairs.

Officials from the public works department blame Sion Panvel Tollways Pvt Ltd, a consortium of IVRCL Assets and Holdings and Kakade Infrastructure, for neglecting to maintain the road. On the other hand, the concessionaire said the government’s failure to pay the firm’s dues after tolls were scrapped has hampered ongoing work.

First Published: Sep 03, 2017 00:22 IST