The new Kharghar toll naka on the Sion-Panvel highway was vandalised early on Tuesday morning by an unidentified group of people. The toll naka is situated near Kamothe at the end of flyover near Taloja junction.
According to police officials at Kalamboli police station, the incident took place at around 5.00 am on Tuesday, where a group of miscreants damaged two toll booths and fled the spot. “The incident happened early in the morning. However, we are not yet aware about the offenders and hence no case has been registered yet,” said an official from Kalamboli police station.
After a nod given by the Public Works Department (PWD), the new Kharghar toll naka started functioning from Monday midnight. The toll has been started to recover the expenses spent on the widening and concretisation of the 23 km road between Sion and Panvel. Over Rs 1200 crore was spent on the project and Sion Panvel Tollways Private Ltd (SPTPL) carried out the extension work.
After the contractor moved court against the state, the Bombay high court had asked the state government to throw the plaza operational in 15 days.
“With the period given by the court ending on Tuesday, we had no option, but to allow the contractor to collect toll. We have excluded five villages that are in the proximity of the plaza from toll collections. Around 32 more villages to be exempted from paying toll will be identified in the next eight days. We have also exempted industrial area around the plaza from paying the toll,” said public works minister Chandrakant Patil.
The Rs. 1,200- crore project has been developed on a build-operate-transfer (BOT), which included widening and concretisation of the 23-km highway.
Umesh Sonawane, public relations officer, Sion-Panvel Tollways, said, “As per the directive of the Bombay high court with respect to collection of toll, the PWD has issued the requisite notification. As per the notification, citizens of Panvel, Kamothe, Kharghar, Kopra and Kalamboli, who live near the toll naka, are exempted from the payment of toll.”