A ride on the Bandra-Worli sea link, either to travel to work, or just a joy ride, is soon going to become a lot more expensive. In a significant policy change the government has decided to sell the toll collection rights of infrastructure projects for two to three years.
In a report by Times of India, motorists will now have to shell out Rs 70 as toll as opposed to the earlier Rupees 60, from April 2018. Even thought the government has been taking a lot of flak for the lengthy collection period (up to 20years) for the Pune Expressway and Mumbai Entry Point, the move to increase the prices has been passed.
Incidentally, toll is the price a commuter pays to foot the bill for the toll operator’s bank interest and cost of investment.
On Thursday the Mumbai State Road Development Corporation Ltd. (MSRDC) sold the toll collection right of the Bandra-Worli sea link to Mumbai Entry Point Toll Ltd. (MEPTL) for a period of three years, starting in mid-July. MEPTL paid Rs 325 crores upfront for the right to collect toll. As per a state official, “MEPTL will not only collect the toll and the interest on the upfront payment for a shorter period of three years, but will also have to ensure re-carpeting of the sea link, besides ensuring security, anti-corrosion treatment and other maintenance works.”
As a private toll collector, MEPTL is likely to earn Rs 11,540 crore at the end of 2026, from the five entry points on the sea link. This is more than five times the amount paid by the concessionaire to the state to maintain Mumbai's flyovers and the Eastern and Western Express Highways. By 2030 the toll operator is expected to earn Rs 12,000 crores from motorists on the Pune Expressway – which is 300% higher than the cost of actually constructing the motorway.
This increase in the toll prices has led to experts and activists asking the government why an average Mumbaikar should pay for something that the Exchequer should pay for? This question is even more apt in the face of the government’s decision to extend the toll collection at the sea link by 29 years, as opposed to the earlier deadline of 2039.
This extension was levied in order to fund the new sea link project between Bandra and Versova, for which the MSRDC is already in the process of floating tenders and shortlisting companies.
How it will affect you
On the the Bandra-Worli sea link, one will continue to pay toll till 2068. The collection deadline for the Vashi and Pune Expressway tolls have been extended by 12 and15 years respectively. Levy collection at Vashi will continue till 2038 and the Expressway toll will have to paid till 2045.
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