Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ announcement of scrapping toll collection at 12 toll plazas and exempting light vehicles — including cars and jeeps — and state transport buses from road toll in 53 other booths do not bring much relief for motorists in Pune.
They will still continue to pay Rs 195 for using the Pune-Mumbai Expressway, and cough up Rs 35 to enter Mumbai city. Puneites will also have to pay Rs 90 for using the Pune-Satara Road and Rs 25 to use the Pune-Nashik Road.
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The state government list does not include the Moshi toll booth on the Pune-Nashik Road that came up in 2002. The Khed Shivapur booth on Pune-Satara road — a section of the Mumbai-Bangalore National Highway — is also out of the purview of the state government directives, as it is governed by the Union Road Transport Ministry.
The Pune-Shirur section of Ahmednagar Road had already become “toll free” after the Karegoan Bhima and Shikrapur booths closed down about a year ago. Toll booths on the Pune-Baramati sections of the Solapur Road too had also been closed.
Puneites have some positive news that among the 12 booths scrapped is Shikrapur toll booth on Chakan-Shirur Road (State Highway 55). Also, among the roads where light motor vehicles have been exempt from paying the road tax are the Daund toll booth (Railway Bridge on Bhima River) and Kedgaon Booth (Kedgaon Railway Overbridge).
Vihar Durve, an RTI activist waging a battle against “unjust toll collection” said that the government’s decision is welcome but leaves much to be desired. The government should have adressed the concern of commuters on Pune-Mumbai Expressway and also consider waiving the toll at entry points to Mumbai, he said.
The private company that built the Pune-Mumbai Expressway has been collecting exorbitant toll fee but this crucial link has been left out of the toll-free roads list he said adding that Mumbai city entry toll booths – which are important for Puneites – have also been left out of exemption list.
The government should also have made an announcement regarding mandatory installation of electronic display boards and CCTV cameras at booths to increase transparency, he said. A provision of a compulsory tri-monthly audit of toll booths would help bring in transparency, said Durve.
Sanjay Pachange who has been against toll collection feels that the government cannot keep the roads toll free for long. “If you look at it closely, the announcement is an eyewash. The government has not scrapped booths that charge exorbitant rates and earn the highest revenue for contractors. Those closed down are the ones that had expired their deadline and, also, the toll collected were small,” said Pachange.