Mumbaikars are unhappy with Devendra Fadnavis government for failing to scrap toll on the Mumbai Entry Points (MEP) at Vashi, Dahisar, Mulund, Airoli and LBS Marg. The state government had provided relief to motorists in other regions of Maharashtra by planning to shut down 12 highway toll plaza’s and waive toll for cars and jeeps at toll plaza’s spread across the state. Toll had become a major issue ahead of the Lok Sabha and assembly election as parties like MNS and Shiv Sena were trying to cash in on this agenda. The BJP government had taken this decision only to counter its ally Shiv Sena and opposition parties. It had faced strong protests from citizens over a new toll collection plaza in Navi Mumbai on the Sion-Panvel highway in January. On the other hand, the Fadnavis government clarified that it never had made any promise to abolish toll completely from the state.
MNS President Raj Thackeray said the government must follow transparency norms instead of making promises to abolish toll plazas. He said, “Citizens must know whether the amount collected from toll goes into the accounts of the exchequer or private firms. It must not merely release advertisements stating about the scraping of some toll plazas but must abolish toll completely from the state. They should eliminate cash collection and use technology for maintaining accountability. What about the tolls booths existing at Mumbai entry points and Mumbai-Pune expressway?”
Raghu Saxena a private firm employee from Kandivali said, “I commute from Dahisar to Kandivali everyday for work but I have to pay toll. The government has sidelined Mumbai as no major election is happening in the city besides the Bandra by poll. The government always takes major decision only when election is just round the corner. However, people have become smart now as they are aware about the truth and it can’t fool them.”
Manish Choudhary, a Thane resident said, “I commute from Thane to Ghatkopar daily for business purpose. The government should waive toll for us when it can scrap toll for other areas of the state. Why should there be discrimination between Mumbai and other cities just because the city is contributing lumpsum amount to the state exchequer?”
As per reports, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) – which collects toll tax at MEP – expressed apprehension in doing away with toll tax on the city’s five entry points and Mumbai-Pune expressway as these are heavily used by small vehicles.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “Small vehicles constitute 90 per cent of traffic on MEP and Mumbai-Pune Expressway and the state would suffer a loss of Rs 30,000 crore in revenue. State government buses have also been exempted from toll tax.”
The toll plazas in Kolhapur – the city which has seen maximum agitations against toll tax – also remain as the government is yet to fine tune its strategy on compensating the stakeholders.
The Maharashtra government is expected to take a final call on Mumbai and Kolhapur toll plazas in the next few months.