The day mid-day reported that cricketing legend and Rajya Sabha MP Sachin Tendulkar had written a letter to Devendra Fadnavis, expressing his concerns over the city’s toll gates and their operation, the chief minister said his government has already been working full-time for providing relief to motorists who pay toll to enter and exit the city.
Sachin Tendulkar was spotted stuck in a long queue at the Kharghar toll naka while on his way to Lonavla around two weeks ago
Fadnavis also blamed the erstwhile governments’ contractor-driven toll-collection policy for the problems. “Yes, I have received a letter from Sachin Tendulkar. The issues and problems he has mentioned have cropped up because of the policies of the past governments, who always thought of favouring the toll contractors.
mid-day’s report yesterday
We are already working on a comprehensive policy that will provide relief to motorists,” Fadnavis said yesterday. According to the CM, a flawed toll policy (adopted by the earlier Congress-NCP governments) had created all the troubles for the motorists. He said measures were being mulled to ease traffic at toll gates.
To the letter
In his February 20 letter to Fadnavis, the Master Blaster asked the CM to look into the issue of toll plazas becoming bottlenecks, leading to traffic snarls, to reduce the physical and mental toll on citizens.
“With the growth of the city, there is a lot of travel that happens from the satellite towns, especially Vashi and Thane. In this context, there is a need to re-look at the number of toll gates rather than keep adding to the list.
These tolls have become major road blocks resulting in traffic snarls, burning precious fuel and adding to the pollution levels,” Tendulkar had said in his letter. Tendulkar also raised the issue of the hike in toll charges and the resultant problems, and asked Fadnavis to leverage available technology to alleviate the limitations of collecting toll.
Fadnavis said yesterday that measures were being taken to modernise toll nakas by using technologies like Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)-enabled cards.
No way out
The agreement signed for the Mumbai Entry Points and Mumbai-Pune Expressway do not have a buy-back clause. This stops the government from making a full and final settlement in case it wishes to nullify the contract.
Such provisions were made at some insignificant toll points. Fadnavis said the erstwhile governments did not have uniformity in signing the agreements with toll operators, because of which many legal issues are cropping up.
Toll operators were allowed to recover 15% of the collection money from the government for not charging the vehicles owned by government and emergency services like ambulances. In fact, the number of such vehicles does not exceed 1% of the total, the CM said, adding that the toll operators end up pocketing the 14% extra money.
He said the extra money pocketed by toll operators could have been used to offer relief to four-wheelers. Fadnavis said that the erstwhile governments did not assess the number of emergency and VVIP vehicles. The Centre had allowed exemptions up to 15%, but the state interpreted it as an allowance for the maximum.