Unaware of the new toll naka at Kharghar on the Sion-Panvel highway, many motorists argued with the staff over the toll
Chaos and long traffic snarls were seen hours after the opening of a new toll naka at Kharghar on the Sion-Panvel highway yesterday.
There was a traffic jam at the toll naka on Tuesday
Unaware of the new toll, most motorists were surprised and many argued with staff at the toll naka. After receiving a notification from the Public Works Department (PWD), the Sion-Panvel Tollways Limited had started toll collection from midnight on Tuesday.
A board displaying the toll rates for vehicles
Now, 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 km. Locals staying in Kharghar, Kalamboli, Kopra, Kamothe and Panvel have been exempted from paying the toll.
The two new tollbooths towards the Kamothe end were later vandalised by a group of protestors allegedly belonging to the MNS. At 5 am yesterday, about six people broke the windows and damaged the doors of the tollbooths. No arrests have been made.
Incidentally, last year Panvel MLA Prashant Thakur had quit Congress and had joined BJP expressing discontent over the Congress-NCP government’s decision to start the toll. However, on Tuesday, speaking to mid-day he claimed “I was never against the toll itself. I had opposed local people paying the toll, which has been successfully implemented. I will request the government to exempt motorists residing in villages of Panvel Taluka also.”
When contacted, Umesh Sonawne, PRO, Sion-Panvel Tollways Limited (SPTL), said in an emailed statement, “The agency has already started issuing tags to local residents as a result of which their vehicles will not be stopped at the toll booths.”
However, when asked about the double toll charges that motorists coming from Mumbai would have to pay, he said, “We are not the right authority to comment on the issue.” He revealed that SPTL would collect the toll for the next 17 years and five months as per the agreement.
Meanwhile, officials from the PWD department revealed that they will be partly exempting traffic coming from the Taloja MIDC area from paying the toll. “We have started issuing tokens under the flyover on the Sion-Panvel highway near Taloja-MIDC junction.
However, the motorists will have to pay toll while coming towards Panvel. They will be given exemption while going towards Mumbai,” said Ramesh Agawane, executive engineer, PWD.
Motorists coming from rural parts of Panvel and Kharghar were confused and argued over the jurisdiction issue, as the notification issued by the state government does not specify the regions of Kharghar and Panvel whose locals will be exempted. Commenting on this, the PWD engineer assured that a notification on that matter would be issued at the earliest.
The idea of starting a new toll naka is not fair, especially when there are two on one stretch. The present government had promised to abolish the new toll, but it seems that all governments are the same.
- Suraj Tiwari, Nerul
The government’s decision of starting the toll is very wrong. The widening was done to reduce the travelling time. However, it took me 30 mins just to cross the Kharghar toll naka. If this is the case, what is the use of spending so much money on road widening?
- D M Vatkar, Kamothe