Thane: Money for nothing, toll (collection) for free
Thane resident finds that firm which built the Kharegaon Bhiwandi-Nasik Highway, has made Rs 570 crore, which happens to be 13 times more than construction cost since 1995
The toll collection at Kharegaon Toll naka was supposed to stop post Nov 2005, but this did not happen
Thane citizens want to be exempt from the Kharegaon toll, following a Right To Information activist’s revelation that the contractor in question has allegedly earned 13 times more than the original cost of the road.
Chandrahas Tawde (60), a retired bank officer and an RTI activist has written a letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, stating the figures, asking him to stop toll collection on the stretch.
In September 1995, construction company Ideal Road Builders was given a contract to build the road by June 1997. A total of R17 crore was spent on constructing the 25-km stretch of the Bhiwandi-Nasik Highway. The firm was also expected to maintain the road till November 2005, post which it was expected that the toll collection would be put to a halt. This did not happen as the contract for maintenance and widening of the road kept getting renewed.
Tawde, a Thane resident, found that the total collection now amounts to Rs 673 crore. “The cost of building and maintenance of the road, came to Rs 103 crore, which means they have made Rs 570 crore more than the making and maintenance charges of the road. I have also learnt from reliable sources that the maintenance work on the stretch has been conducted by the state public works department, which means the company has been pocketing those funds as well,” said Tawde.
The state government authorities have now sanctioned another road widening project for the same stretch, which will have a new set of costs allocated for the repairs and maintenance. “Why are they not using the amount that has been collected as toll? Now, they’ll continue this work for two more years and then impose toll for another 10 years, which has become the modus operandi of the government authorities now,” Tawde added.
The RTI activist has filed a PIL in the Bombay High Court against collection at the Kharegoan toll naka as well as other toll nakas at the entry points of Mumbai, such as Mulund and Dahisar.
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