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Monday, July 23, 2018

Commuters’ toll woes Pune district officials to get tough with NHAI

Panel to assess the operations at Khed-Shivapur toll plaza on Saturday, streamline movement

By: Express News Service | Pune | Published: December 4, 2015 5:00:56 am

THE DISTRICT administration has decided to form a committee and monitor the toll booth at Khed Shivapur on National Highway 4, after it was flooded with complaints from commuters over long queues and stranded vehicles at the toll plaza.

The district administration has decided to act tough so that the toll collecting agencies strictly implement the waiting period of three minutes, besides the 10 seconds to pay the toll, collect the receipt and drive on.

The team comprising revenue officials, police, team from National Highways and officials from Reliance—the operating agency— will be present at the toll plaza on Saturday at peak hours to keep a check on the timing and operations of the toll plaza. While Pune district will have the team monitoring Khed-Shivapur operations, a similar drive will be carried out at the Anewadi toll plaza in Satara district.

“The team is expected to monitor the density of vehicular movement, the routine and the exact time taken by each vehicle to cross the toll booth during rush hours. We received several complaints regarding long waiting hours and have had several discussions with the highway authorities. The team will now monitor the ground situation and give us a report,’’said Pune district collector Saurabh Rao, who chaired the meeting.

The team will give a report and further decision by the administration will be taken after it is studied, said the collector on Thursday. He added the rules by the Indian Road Congress (IRC) has to be followed. IRC is a national technical body of highway engineers that provides knowledge on construction and maintenance of roads and bridges, including technology, equipment, research, planning, finance, taxation, organization and all connected policy issues. According to IRC guideline, 240 vehicles should cross the toll plaza within an hour’s time. “Even as the operators have said that they have not signed any agreement on the time frame to clear the vehicles at the toll plaza, they have to follow the universal rule and that needs to be addressed,” said Rao.

Deputy collector Sahebrao Gaikwad added that running the toll plaza efficiently is a pre-requisite condition set in the agreement that was signed between the NHAI and the district authorities. “The agreement speaks about a three-minute passage for vehicles, which is not happening. Hence, there is a public outcry,” he said. During the meetings with NHAI, the matter has been discussed. “The NHAI officials had claimed that efficiency of the toll operations has increased. However, our observations have been different. We have told the authorities that they would be given an ultimatum to increase the efficiency, failing which the district authorities would issue notices,” he said.

Civic activist Vivek Velankar said, on an average, people have to wait for more than 30 minutes on this toll plaza. “The toll collectors should have hand-held machines to expedite the process of toll collection but that has not happened,” he said.

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