Mumbai: After exemption, motorists want dedicated lanes at tolls
They say though the state has exempted Light Motor Vehicles from paying at some tolls, they will be stuck in traffic behind other vehicles which are not exempted
Car owners can rejoice after the state government closed several toll plazas, and gave a waiver to Light Motor Vehicles (LMV) from payment at some tolls, including the new toll at Kharghar-Kamothe on the Sion Panvel highway, from yesterday.
The Kharghar-Kamothe toll booth, where motorists travelling on the Sion-Panvel highway are worried about getting stuck behind other vehicles. The toll plazas in Mumbai and Mumbai-Pune Expressway will continue to operate, as no decision has been taken on them
However, despite being exempt from paying toll, some worry they will still be stuck in long traffic snarls during peak hours, especially on the Sion-Panvel highway, as they haven’t been given dedicated lanes.
Also Read: Maharashtra to shut down 12 toll plazas
Motorists going through the new toll plaza will have to wait in long queues during peak hours, as toll authorities at Sion Panvel Tollways Private Ltd (SPTPL) said they still have not taken a decision on whether they would dedicate lanes for LMVs to pass without stopping, as commercial vehicles which are not exempt from paying toll (such as private buses), could use lanes reserved for LMVs at the toll plaza.
Officials from SPTPL said that a decision on the same would be taken only after directions from the Public Works Department (PWD). Tajuddin Shaikh, head of toll operations at Kharghar-Kamothe said, “The PWD will direct all toll operators and accordingly it will be implemented.”
Traffic snarls during peak hours have been a major issue since the new toll at Kharghar was opened. Cricketing legend and Rajya Sabha MP Sachin Tendulkar had also raised the issue, and had written a letter to CM Devendra Fadnavis, asking him to look into the issues of toll plazas becoming bottlenecks and causing traffic snarls.
Motorists often complain about the time taken to cross the Kharghar toll. “Though the toll collection for LMVs has been stopped, there should be dedicated lanes kept free near the plaza, so cars can move without stopping. If that is not done, then we will end up wasting time waiting behind commercial vehicles,” said Arun Bhise, a local resident and president of Citizens’ Unity Forum, Panvel.
During peak hours, on an average, it takes 15-30 minutes to cross the new toll in Navi Mumbai. “It is good that exemption has been given, however, if separate lanes are kept only for cars then the issue of traffic snarls during peak hours will reduce to a great extent,” said Vijay Bhoir, a resident of Belapur.
State PWD minister, Eknath Shinde told mid-day that directives have been given, “We have given directives to the toll operators wherein two separate lanes will be kept reserved for light motor vehicles.”
Freedom from tolls
The exemption for private light vehicles has been given at Kasheli on the Bhiwandi-Wadpe road, Kharghar-Kamothe on the Sion-Panvel highway, Gaimukh on the Thane-Ghodbunder Road and two posts at Katai and Gove villages on the Bhiwandi-Kalyan-Shil Road. The Wadkhal toll post on the Alibaug-Pen-Khopoli road has been withdrawn.
Thane-Ghodbunder Road LMV users also exempt
The waiver of toll for mid-size vehicles also helped motorists using the Thane-Ghodbunder Road. Mid-size vehicle drivers going towards Thane from Mumbai and Vasai (and back) had to earlier pay toll at Ghodbunder toll plaza, but due to the waiver they will not have to pay toll.