They were highlighting the poor condition of the road at Aarey Colony. The road, owned by Aarey Dairy, is maintained by the public works department (PWD). Speaking about their protests, the Sainiks said a group of 15-20 of them would continue to stand guard at the tollbooths asking motorists not to pay the toll till the road is free of potholes.
The protest was organised at the Aarey Milk Colony toll plaza at Goregaon under the leadership of MLA Ravindra Waikar and corporator Jitendra Valvi. Fearful that the protest would turn violent and they would be the target of the workers’ ire, the toll operators fled the booths.
“I have been raising this issue for such a long time. It is unfair that motorists have to pay toll to use this road. We decided that we would protest, and so we carried out this agitation and will continue to do so, till the road is repaired,” said Waikar.
The dire condition of the road was brought to light by MiD DAY when we reported how motorists were complaining of paying toll even though the road was in such a bad condition (‘Toll charged to use Aarey Colony road raises stink’, June 24) following which minor repairs had been carried out. But these didn’t stick and soon, motorists were complaining once again of the backbreaking stretch (‘Repaired’ potholes turn to craters in two weeks’, July 4).
Valvi added that the workers would continue to stand guard at the toll plaza to ensure that motorists don’t pay toll. “We have already asked our men to stand at the toll naka and will do so till the road is repaired. We have submitted several complaint letters to the concerned authorities, including the Aarey Dairy CEO, the PWD officials, but no serious action has been taken. With the protest, authorities will wake up and repair the road at the earliest,” he added.
Others join in
Several banners also cropped up across the stretch asking motorists not to pay toll. The local unit of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) have put up banners saying toll collection should be stopped till the road is repaired. In fact, the MNS also gave an ultimatum saying that if the road wasn’t repaired in 15 days, they would have to face the music, MNS style. The NCP in its banners said that toll shouldn’t be collected from two-wheelers.
P P Darade, executive engineer, PWD, said, “We have started the major repair works, and within two weeks the work will be completed.” Aarey Milk Colony CEO Ashok Jadhav said, “We are sorry for the inconvenience caused owing to the potholes. Repairs have already started. Within two weeks the road should be completely repaired. The political parties should stop their protest and allow toll operators do their job.”