While the police are busy securing the city and its politicos for the MNS’s anti-toll protest today, Mantralaya seems surprisingly unperturbed. On Tuesday, the chief minister, his deputy, and the public works and home ministers were away on tour, leaving chief secretary (CS) J S Saharia to deal with the mess.
CM Prithviraj Chavan: New Delhi and Deputy CM Ajit Pawar: New Delhi
Saharia had his plate full, as additional chief secretary Amitabh Rajan, who is administrative head of the state home department, was also on leave. Saharia held a meeting with secretaries from the general administration and public works departments to discuss the impact of the stir.
Home Minister R R Patil: Solapur and PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal: Nashik
Late in the evening, the CS was expected to meet Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, once the latter returned from New Delhi, where he was tied up with seat-sharing negotiations with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Home Minister R R Patil, who was in Solapur, and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who was in Delhi, were also expected to return late in the night.
Chhagan Bhujbal, whose public works department makes the policy decisions on toll, was in Nashik on Tuesday. But his party, the NCP, in a bid to cut the Gordian knot over the toll issue, asked Chavan to stop collection on two-lane roads and bridges used by the rural population.
Bhaskar Jadhav, state NCP chief, wrote to Chavan, appealing him to stop toll collection altogether. The NCP wishes to break the current impasse and offer major concessions to road users from rural parts of the state.
Routes that may be affected owing to the MNS agitation
>> Mumbai-Pune Expressway
>> Eastern Express Highway
>> Western Express Highway
>> Bandra-Worli Sea Link
>> National Highway (NH)-4, which connects Mumbai to Thane, Pune, Satara and Kolhapur
>> Mumbai-Nashik Expressway (NH-3)
>> Thane-Ghodbunder Road
>> Thane-Bhiwandi Road
Where were they?
CM Prithviraj Chavan: New Delhi
Deputy CM Ajit Pawar: New Delhi
Home Minister R R Patil: Solapur
PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal: Nashik