With the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) having decided to extend toll collection on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway beyond the current concession period ending 2019, six companies have queued up vying to win toll collection rights for the 95-km stretch. Firms such as IL&FS, Reliance Infrastructure, Patel Engineering, Essel Infrastructure, Ashoka Buildcon and IRB Infrastructure had evinced interest in the contract and have been declared eligible for bidding for it.
“The Mumbai-Pune expressway is a very busy corridor. There are fixed toll booths and no by-passes, so there are hardly any leakages. Moreover, as of now, the company in charge of toll collection earns close to Rs 360 crore every year in toll revenue on the expressway. We have got a good response as it is a very lucrative contract,” a senior MSRDC official said requesting anonymity.
The MSRDC has invited financial bids from the six qualified companies with the last date for bid submissions being August 21. “The company that quotes the lowest concession period will be the most preferred bidder. The tendering process should be completed in the next month or so,” the official said.
The firm that gets the contract will have to pay MSRDC a total amount of Rs 1,000 crore in installments and undertake some expansion works on the old Mumbai-Pune highway.
Earlier this year, there was a raging controversy surrounding toll collection, including on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. The Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena had led a state-wide agitation vandalising toll booths, saying though the state collects toll from commuters, it scores very low on road safety and provision of amenities on highways.
Currently, IRB Infrastructure is in charge of operation, maintenance and toll collection on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, which has five toll stations at Shedung, Khalapur, Kusgaon, Talegaon and Khalapur Connector. The company had purchased toll collection rights with an upfront payment of Rs 918 crore in 2004 and has a 15-year concession period valid till August 8, 2019. IRB Infrastructure also collects toll at four points on the old Mumbai-Pune highway at Sheelphata, Dehu Road, Shedung and Kusgaon.
With the Mumbai-Pune Expressway getting increasingly congested, the MSRDC had in March this year decided to take up capacity addition works on the old Mumbai-Pune highway, and bundle the works, totalling Rs 285 crore, with toll collection rights on the expressway. The capacity addition, for which the MSRDC got a sanction from the National Highways Authority of India, will involve road-widening on certain stretches at Nigdi, Dehu and Panvel, construction of flyovers, underpasses, pedestrian walkways and a bridge over the Gadhi River.