The motorists going towards Navi Mumbai and Pune will have to spend more money as the Public Works Department (PWD) has given clearance to the opening of Kharghar Toll plaza on Sion-Panvel highway from Tuesday. It should be noted that before the assembly elections BJP had said that the government will make efforts to have toll free roads.

On Monday, the PWD decided that from midnight the toll collection will start and a notification regarding the same was also issued. This also means that motorists going towards Navi Mumbai and Kharghar will have to pay toll at Vashi and Kharghar and both the toll plazas are within a distance of 15 kms.

In the month of July 2014, the Congress-NCP headed former government had put on hold the decision to open the toll plaza at Kharghar as not only there was opposition to the toll from people but also from political parties in the opposition.

The former government also feared that the toll issue might backfire during assembly election and so the opening of toll plaza was put on hold. The new toll plaza is near Kamothe at the end of the flyover near Taloja junction for the newly widened Sion-Panvel Highway.

The Sion Panvel Tollways Project Limited (SPTPL) will collect toll on the same. It should be noted that last year even the former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar had raised the issue of canceling the toll on this highway. Ajt Pawar had even said last year that the government should buy the project from the contractor so that motorists don’t have to face the burden of paying toll.

Last year, Former CM Prithviraj Chavan had appointed a three-member committee headed by the chief secretary to study plan of collecting toll on the Kharghar-Kamothe stretch of the road. Commenting on the same the former CM Prithviraj Chavan had then told mid day, “The committee headed by chief secretary is now studying the issue and the decision about whether to collect toll or not will be taken soon.”

Sources from PWD told mid day that it has been mentioned in the notification that five villages including Panvel, Kharghar, Kamothe, Kalamboli and Kopra will not have to pay toll at the toll plaza as they are located near the toll plaza.

It should be noted that former Panvel MLA Prashant Thakur had even resigned as MLA last year over the Kharghar-Kamothe toll issue and had later joined BJP, and is currently a BJP MLA. The Rs 1200 crore project has been developed on Built Operate and Transfer basis and the 23 km road between Sion and Panvel was widened and concretization work was done.