In a bid to beat the heat from MNS-led protests against toll collection on poor roads, the state government is working to introduce a digital toll system to bring in transparency.
Policy recommends a digital system at tollbooths to keep count of the number of vehicles. It also proposes round-the-clock video surveillance of the functioning of toll plazas and mandates display of information such as duration of collection, project cost, contractor and other financial details. File pics
A policy recommending digital monitoring of tollbooths and vehicles has been drafted by a panel led by additional chief secretary (planning) K P Bakshi and is pending for approval by a cabinet sub-committee on infrastructure, headed by the chief minister. The draft policy, which may lead to drastic changes in the operation of tollbooths, will come up for a crucial round of discussion in a day or two.
For now, to quell the wave of violent agitations by the MNS, the state has stopped collection of toll on roads that are in poor condition, and recovery has also been discontinued at 67 places where the tenure of toll collection is over.
In response to MNS chief Raj Thackeray’s call for a rasta roko protest tomorrow, the public works department (PWD) headed by NCP Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, clarified that the toll is being recovered on just two per cent of the roads in the state, and decisions related to toll are in step with the Centre’s policy.
Key points proposed in the draft toll policy
>> Setting up a digital system at tollbooths with automatic traffic count classifier (ATCC) and 24x7 video recording to keep tabs on operation of tollbooths and passing vehicles
>> Display boards with details of tenders, conditions, expected income, number of vehicles, funds for the project, loan taken by contractor, financial institution giving loan and so on
>> Specifying the period of construction for which toll will be levied: one year for projects worth Rs 100 crore, one-and-half-year for projects costing Rs 100-300 crore; two years for those costing beyond
>> Toilet facilities at tollbooths; PWD claims the facility is available at 98 booths in the state
>> Police chowkies at booths, and verification of booth employees
>> Introducing traffic monitoring even before toll operation is activated, to offer data before going in an agreement with the operator.
>> Electronic receipt-printing machines for issuing receipts