Stop fleecing motorists, increase distance between toll booths, says activist

City activist writes to PWD Minister Bhujbal, demands distance between two highway toll nakas be increased from 50 km to 60 km in accordance with Centre's rule
A civic activist from the city has written to Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Chhagan Bhujbal asking him to increase the distance between toll booths on state and national highways to 60 km, in concurrence with Central Government rules. This comes after Bhujbal passed an order where the distance between toll booths was increased to 50 km from the earlier 40 km.

Taking a toll: The National Highways Fee (Determination of Rates &
Collection) Rules stipulate a 60-km distance be maintained between
two toll booths. Activist Vishwas Sahastrabuddhe says the current state
order to keep toll booths 50 km apart means people pay more than they
should on highways. Representation pic

Vishwas Sahastrabuddhe from the Nagrik Sanghatana said that all these years motorists plying on the various state and national highways passing through the state were being fleeced because of toll booths springing up one after the other.

"The decision itself should have been taken a long time ago. No sooner do you leave a toll booth after paying a hefty amount, than you see another booth, which is absolutely illogical," said Sahastrabuddhe.

Although admitting that major reconstruction will have to be undertaken to relocate the booths, Sahastrabuddhe said that it was imperative because the amount earned through such tolls over the years was "a fortune." The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways framed the National Highways Fee (Determination of Rates & Collection) Rules in 2008, which clearly stipulates a 60-km distance between two toll booths.

"Any state regulation has to be in concurrence with a central rule which is not happening in this case," said Sahastrabuddhe.  The issue assumes significance in light of the recent protests by activists over alleged irregularities in toll collection, particularly on highways in Mumbai and the Pune-Mumbai Expressway.

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