On an average every year, a total of 2.29 lakh vehicles, classified by the state government as being exempt from paying toll, use the 5.6-km Bandra-Worli sea link, which is tolled at nearly Rs 10 per kilometre.
However, though the total figure comes across as staggering, in case of the sea link at least, it is contrary to the noise that Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena had made earlier this year over vehicles exempt from toll causing major revenue loss and burdening the average commuter.
According to information obtained under the Right to Information Act, an average of 628 vehicles use the sea link every day without paying toll as they are exempt from it as per the state government’s notification. This is just a little over one per cent of the total number of vehicles that use the Bandra-Worli sea link every day. At the current toll rates of Rs 55 for cars, Rs 80 for light-commercial vehicles and Rs 110 for trucks and buses, the notional revenue gap caused by cars exempt from toll on the sea link would be Rs 35,855 per day, or Rs 1.3 crore every year. The overall toll collection on the sea link has been in the range of Rs 55.65 crore in 2009-10 and Rs 77.85 crore in 2012-13.
Monthly data from August 2012 to November 2013 shows that the average daily traffic on the Bandra-Worli sea link has been 45,000 to 55,000 vehicles. The daily average of 628 vehicles, which are exempted from paying toll, comprises 591 cars, 24 light-commercial vehicles and 13 trucks or heavy vehicles.
As per the state government notification, vehicles that are not liable to pay toll include VVIP cars carrying the president, vice president, governors of state, representatives entitled to red beacons atop their vehicles, and vehicles carrying current and former MPs, MLAs and MLCs. The notification adds that vehicles of the central and state government, defence, police, post and telegraph department, ambulances, fire-fighting vehicles and hearses are also excluded from toll.
Jayant Mhaiskar, managing director of Mumbai Entry Point Infrastructure Developers, the company in-charge of toll collection on the Bandra-Worli sea link, said, “The number of vehicles exempt from paying toll doesn’t really make a big difference to our revenue. We knew about it at the time of bidding and had factored that in our estimates.”