Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has reiterated his commitment to phase out toll tax in Maharashtra while partially exempting it at 53 booths, and completely scrapping it at 12 toll nakas from Monday, June 1.
Cars, jeeps, SUVs and state transport buses will be able to move without shelling out toll taxes at 53 toll booths across the state. The move is expected to benefit lakhs of commuters every day. The government is also considering partial toll tax concession on the Bandra-Worli Sea Link and five entry points toMumbai, besides scrapping of toll collection in Kolhapur.
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A high-level committee looking into financial implications and legal aspects is likely to submit its report by July-end. The decision to lift toll tax from Monday at 65 booths was taken after considering these aspects.
Concerns of people having to shell out toll taxes at entry points to Mumbai and along the Mumbai-Pune Expressway are being weighed. “Ideally, we are in favour of total toll tax free ride in Maharashtra. The decision taken today concerned booths that would not land the administration in legal wrangles,” said Fadnavis. “Where we feel toll tax abolition would have invited a court stay, we are moving cautiously. We are consulting legal experts and would take the decisions accordingly. We are going to phase out toll taxes in the coming years,” he added.
The decision to exempt toll tax at 65 toll booths had evoked questions within the cabinet about its financial implications. The finance ministry was reported to be not in its favour. Besides, the move had been facing opposition from private players. Ahead of the 2014 general and assembly elections, the BJP had promised to get rid of toll taxes if voted to power.
At midnight, state Transport Minister Eknath Shinde waved a flag and let vehicles ply without paying toll at a toll booth in Navi Mumbai.
Out of the 12 toll nakas shut, 11 were manned by the state Public Works Department, and one by the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation.
Of the 53 toll nakas where toll tax has been partially exempted, 27 are manned by the PWD and and 26 by the MSRDC.
The government has proposed to dedicate two lanes for vehicles that do not have to pay toll tax.