TO DECONGEST traffic in and around Thane, the state government has decided to suspend toll collection at Mulund and Airoli toll plazas for light motor vehicles from Tuesday. The suspension will continue till September 23.
PWD officials said that since the Mumbra bypass was being repaired, areas like Thane, Mulund and Airoli are witnessing traffic jams. Vehicles coming from Navi Mumbai are passing through Airoli, Mulund and Thane towards Nashik and Ahmedabad. The same route is being used by vehicles coming from Nashik and Ahmedabad to go towards Navi Mumbai, leading to huge traffic snarls in Thane and at the toll plazas, said an official.
On Monday, PWD Minister Chandrakant Patil and Minister for PWD (Public Undertakings) Eknath Shinde held a meeting with senior officials to discuss the issue. “We have decided to suspend the toll collection from the both toll plazas from Tuesday for light motor vehicles. The toll collection will be suspended till September 23,” said Shinde after the meeting.
He added that the work of the Mumbra bypass is expected to be completed by September 10. “We have also asked officials to check the possibility of adding a lane at these toll plazas and also the elevated toll plazas and submit a proposal accordingly. It is an attempt to have a permanent solution to these traffic snarls at toll plazas,” he said.
Officials said that in July, around 11.04 lakh and eight lakh light motor vehicles had passed through the Mulund and Airoli toll plazas, respectively. The toll collection at Mulund toll plaza was Rs 5.5 crore while it was Rs 4.31 crore at Airoli last month. “The government will take a decision later on paying the contractor of these toll plazas,” said Shinde. While most Thane residents welcomed the move, several believed that it was a step in the wrong direction. Kasber Augustine, a local resident, said: “The government had promised that the toll plazas would be removed… So, they had to remove it. However, there are multiple things affecting traffic and all of them need attention, like the Kopri bridge bottleneck. Thane residents shouldn’t feel as if they are entering and exiting a jail every time they get out of the house.”
Manisha Iyer (40), another resident, said: “A journey that used to take hardly 10 minutes is now taking around 45 to 50 minutes. The payment of the toll hardly takes any time. I am not saying that it will have no affect on the traffic situation, but it would not be enough.”
Trupti Vadilkar, a resident who takes the expressway everyday to get to her office in Vikhroli, said: “Now that collection of toll has been temporarily stopped, a lot can be done. Extra lanes can be made and no one would have to wait… But it should be monitored and not remain an empty promise.”