Though most of the toll plazas located at several entry points to the city functioned uninterruptedly under heavy police protection, there were a few that had to face Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) party workers’ ire yesterday. Motorists, especially truck and tempo drivers, looked happy, as they managed to save hundreds of rupees, which they pay as toll on a daily basis. MNS chief Raj Thackeray had called the protest. Addressing a rally in Thane, Thackeray had accused toll-collecting agencies of unlawfully charging toll even after the construction cost of the road was recovered.
Anjlesh Keshwar, in-charge of the toll plaza on Bhiwandi- Kalyan road managed by Bhiwandi Kalyan Shil Phata (BKSP), said, “We learnt about the vandalism at Dahisar toll plaza and chose to remain shut after local MNS party workers threatened us. MLA Prakash Bhoir, the local MNS leader, had forced us to stop collecting toll since Tuesday at 8.30 pm. Though we resumed the process yesterday morning, a huge mob of MNS workers arrived at the plaza, and warned us against it. We immediately shut down the collection booths.” When inquired whether they had received police protection or not, Keshwar said, “The local police immediately arrived to control the situation and several policemen were deployed at the spot. But if we continue to collect toll, then tomorrow, we would have to face the consequences.” On an average, about 7,000 vehicles pass through BKSP toll plaza. In the last two days, the toll plaza has incurred losses worth Rs 4 lakh.
On the contrary…
While the BKSP toll plaza remained shut for the day, IRB managed toll plaza, on the Nashik highway near Thane, remained operational under heavy police protection. Toll plaza in-charge, K Kutty, said, “The MNS party workers had gathered around the toll plaza and asked us to shut down. But the police arrived on time and we continued with our work under their protection. Being on the highway, connecting the city with the suburbs, we would have incurred a huge loss had we not collected toll.”
The request letter
After the MNS party workers vandalised the Dahisar toll plaza, police personnel were deployed at four major toll nakas at Airoli, Vashi, Mulund and LBS Marg. Speaking to MiD DAY, an MEPL official said, “Yesterday MNS party workers along with party office bearers came to our toll plazas in Mulund and Vashi and gave us a request letter in which they have mentioned their demands. We will be discussing these demands with the concerned MSRDC officials.”
‘Cops saved us’
Attempts to vandalise the Vashi toll naka remained unsuccessful, as the Vashi police had fortified the toll plaza. Initially, over 20 party workers tried to vandalise the toll naka at around 12.30. However, timely intervention by the Vashi police foiled their bid and 15 people were arrested. Later, at 4 pm, a group of 10 MNS party workers reached the toll plaza and seeing no police personnel around, pelted stones at the plaza and tried to flee the spot. However, the officials, who were stationed next to the toll plaza, detained them. These party workers were held at Vashi police station until evening. “Though the MNS workers attempted to vandalise our toll naka, we haven’t incurred any loss today, as traffic on the Sion-Panvel highway was normal,” said an official at Vashi toll naka. According to the official, more than Rs 10 lakh is collected at the toll naka everyday.
(with inputs from Saurabh Katkurwar)