Mumbai: There's good news for motorists in Maharashtra as the state government has decided to do away with 44 toll plazas in the state. The announcement was made by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar in the state assembly on Monday. However, none of these tolls are within Mumbai city limits.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan told reporters, "We had tried to formulate a policy before Lok Sabha elections. The PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal had announced this as well. Whichever toll is in its final phases and where only little money is left, we are trying to cancel the toll."
"We have decided and passed orders after discussing with developers how much we need to pay the developer to stop the toll. The Public Works Department (PWD) and Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) have given us their view point. We have now decided to shut 44 toll collection plazas. The government will have to pay Rs 309 crore to the developers but the common man will benefit from this," the Chief Minister added.
Earlier this year, there were violent protests against toll collection in the state. The protests began at Kolhapur where toll plazas were ransacked and burned. Raj Thackeray's MNS, which failed to win a single seat in the recently held Lok Sabha polls, had organised an anti-toll campaign. On February 13, Raj Thackeray, who set out with his convoy to agitate at Vashi against toll, was halted at Somaiya ground, Chunabhatti and taken to the RCF police station in Chembur. The MNS chief was detained for two hours and later released.
The Congress-NCP government has been criticised for unreasonable toll collection regime in the state. In February after violent agitation by the MNS, the chief minister had declared that the government was in the midst of formulation of a new toll collection policy. With Assembly elections round the corner, the government is hoping these populist decisions will help it win back the confidence of the people, after being routed in the Lok Sabha elections.