Updated: September 26, 2021 9:30:53 pm
Two days after Union Road and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari announced that toll collection on the Pune-Satara highway will be “terminated”, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) said toll collection will continue. NHAI also said it will take over the job of toll collection on the highway from Reliance Infra.
On Friday, Gadkari, who was in Pune, said, “We have terminated toll collection on Pune-Satara highway…”, adding that his ministry has planned a “green highway” on the Pune-Bengaluru highway. “..this will help reduce traffic congestion.”
Sanket Bhondve, personal secretary to Gadkari, said, “The Minister did say that toll on the Pune-Satara highway will be scrapped. But it will not be done in the immediate future. As of now, toll will continue.”
Suhas Chitnis, project director of NHAI, said, “NHAI will take over the job of toll collection for some time. During this period, we will complete the maintenance and related works on the highway. We plan to spend Rs 50 crore for this purpose. After the work is completed, the road will be handed over to Reliance Infra as per the contract signed with them.”
Officials said there will be a concession or revision of toll rates even if the NHAI takes over toll collection. “A policy decision in this regard will be taken soon,” said an official.
Reliance Infra manages the 140-km stretch of the Pune-Satara highway or the Pune-Bengaluru highway from Dehu Road in Pune district to Shendre in Satara district.
City Congress spokesperson Ramesh Iyer said, “The Minister came to Pune and made the announcement of scrapping the toll. If now the NHAI is saying toll will continue, the minister should set the record straight, otherwise, it will be like misleading the people.”
Activist Vivek Velenkar, who has been campaigning for toll scrapping in the state, said, “I think what Gadkari spoke was about scrapping the contract with Reliance Infra. He has been making all sorts of promises. Last time, he had promised to put the contractor in the black list but nothing happened till date. The entire Pune-Satara highway is in a mess but Gadkari and his ministry are not taking any strong action against the contractor.”
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