Expressway toll collection cancellation: Activists look forward to positive reply from government
The Bombay high court had earlier asked the state to decide its stand within three weeks on whether toll plazas on the Pune-Mumbai expressway are to be scrapped as IRB Infrastructure developers, the contractor in-charge of the expressway, has already collected Rs 145 crore more than anticipated amount through toll collection.pune Updated: Mar 26, 2018 15:28 IST
Activists demanding cancellation of toll on the Pune-Mumbai expressway are awaiting statement from the state government on its stand on the issue. The Bombay high court had earlier asked the state to decide its stand within three weeks on whether toll plazas on the Pune-Mumbai expressway are to be scrapped as IRB Infrastructure developers, the contractor in-charge of the expressway, has already collected Rs 145 crore more than anticipated amount through toll collection.
When contacted, IRB said that toll collection does not only involve the construction cost and that one should understand the whole economic calculation behind it. Activists have alleged that the surplus toll collection is due to the faulty traffic study conducted by Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) which wrongly anticipated the escalation in traffic, resulting in surplus toll revenue, turning into profit for the toll operator.
Pravin Mategaonkar, in his petition filed in the Bombay high court, said that IRB had collected ₹145 crore more than the anticipated toll amount. In 2015, the state government had appointed the Sumit Malik committee to analyse whether it is feasible to close the toll plazas. The committee submitted a report in 2016 suggesting that the government can close the toll plazas but will have to pay Rs 1,362 crore to the contractor for the period between April 1, 2016 and August 8, 2019. However, till February 2018, the contractor has collected Rs 1,507 crore, which is almost ₹145 crore higher than what the committee recommended, said Mategaonkar in his petition.
“Information through RTI revealed that contractor has collected almost ₹145 crore more than anticipated amount. Hence, there is a need to immediately close all toll plazas on the expressway,” Mategaonkar said.
MSRDC sold the rights to collect toll to IRB in 2004 for 15 years for the upfront payment of ₹918 crore. Right to information (RTI) activists have claimed that MSRDC had anticipated that the company will get ₹2,869 crore in toll revenue by 2019 and after meeting the target, the contract will be terminated. However, despite collecting a revenue of ₹2,923 crore till the end of November 2016, the toll operator has been allowed to charge toll on the expressway.