Activists call the move as unjustified, demand public audit of toll collection…
BeyondHeadlines Special Correspondent
PUNE: Travel on Mumbai- Pune Expressway will be costlier from Tuesday as the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) has effected an 18 percent hike amounting to Rs 30 barely sixteen days before the elections. After the increase, the toll for cars will go up by Rs 30 from the current Rs 165 to Rs 195 for one side journey. However, the toll hike has not gone down well with the commuters and NGO’s working for traffic safety who have termed the hike as unjustified.
The MSRDC chief engineer, Arun Deodhar said,” The hike in the toll on e-way has been done after a span of three years . It will be implemented from April 1, We have installed brifen at few places which are accident prone. Tenders have been called for brifen wires and parking bays. We are waiting for the closure of tenders only after which the work will begin,” he added.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray’s campaign against toll too seems to made little impact on the toll reduction as the MSRDC went ahead with its decision for toll hike. It may be recalled that Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had announced closure of 22 toll booths across the state and assured that the government will be exploring the option of closing down another chunk of around 25 more toll booths which are recovering toll against roads and flyovers projects worth around Rs 20 crores. Moreover the state government had decided to pay up front Rs 124 crores to the developers collecting toll.
The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) officials claimed that the toll amount would go on increasing every three years until 2030.On one hand MSRDC is increasing the toll rate and on the other hand they have completely failed to put in place the basic safety measures like brifen wires ropes, CCTV camera, rumble strips, trauma care ambulance.
Meanwhile, activists claimed that fare hike on E-way can only be justified if MSRDC fulfils the safety related facilities and amenities on the E-way which according to them has not happened till date. Project director for the expressway safety project of Fulora Foundation, Tanmay Pendse said,” The hike in toll rates is not justified. MSRDC should display in public that what they have done with the amount that they have collected in the last three years for the safety of people travelling on E-way. Toll hike is adding burden to the people travelling on e-way as they have to shell extra amount without getting any facility.”