At a time when the BJP government is considering to make Maharashtra toll free, its ally Shiv Sena that controls the MSRDC department, is planning to set up toll plazas on the proposed six-lane Mumbai-Nagpur expressway.
The cost of the project is Rs 30,000 crore and it will be recovered through toll, an official at Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) said.
The BJP, during its state Assembly election campaign had announced to make Maharashtra free from toll booths. The government has exempted vehicles from paying toll at 63 booths across the state.
Exemption of toll at Mumbai entry points for vehicles is also on the agenda of the state government.
Minister for Public Work department (PWD) Chandrakant Patil had announced the toll policy in the recently concluded monsoon session of the state Legislature.
However, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis made the announcement of Mumbai-Nagpur Communication Super Expressway on the last day of the session.
Eknath Shinde, Minister of Maharashtra State Road Development Department (MSRDC), had on the same day said there are several options to raise funds for the project.
A senior official in the MSRDC department, requesting anonymity, said there is no other option but to impose toll on the proposed Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway to recover costs of the project.
"Some part of the proposed expressway will be developed by National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), while other (will be done) by the MSRDC. We will ask NHAI for connectivity with state's proposed expressway," he said.
The NHAI has developed a segment from Bhiwandi to Shirpur in Dhule district at the boundary of Maharashtra on Mumbai-Agra NH-6.
MSRDC has developed Sinnar-Ghoti-Aurangabad diversion connecting to NH-6 at Nashik.
The official said Nagpur-Jalgaon (NH-3) is also being developed by the NHAI.
Hence, MSRDC has to develop the segment between Shegaon and Jalna. The road connectivity between Jalna and Aurangabad and Aurangabad to Ghoti in Nashik district is very good, he said.
"At several places, the initial four lane segment will be converted into six lane, but the connectivity between Shegaon and Jalna will be the major work that has to be constructed afresh," he said.
When asked about the resources to develop the expressway, he said the Minister has already answered it.
"There is no alternative other than to adopt the Public Private Partnership (PPP), as MSRDC and the state government does not have adequate funds to build 800-km expressway," the official said.
To a poser on contradictions between BJP which is against toll, and MSRDC, under the Shiv Sena, the official said without the participation of a private contractor, "not a single road can be built".
Toll will be applicable on Mumbai-Nagpur expressway to recover the construction cost, the official said.
"The rate of toll and the period of toll collection will depend upon actual construction cost and the amount that we have to pay for land acquisition," he said, adding that as of now since till the time Land acquisition bill is stuck in Parliament, it will not be possible to calculate the money that will be needed to pay as compensation of land.
Meanwhile, the state government has decided to approach Union Road Development Minister Nitin Gadkari to convince the Centre to finance the project, partially to complete the project.