After the decimated performance of the Congress-Nationalist Congress (NCP) in the Lok Sabha polls and ahead of the state assembly election, the Congress-NCP run state govt closed down its 44 toll collection centres on Monday, across the state.
Ajit Pawar, the deputy chief minister in the legislature, said that the state govt has decided to scrap the centres that include 34 toll collections on the Public Works Department's (PWD) roads and 10 on the Maharashtra State and Road Development Corporation's roads across the state. "It will put an additional Rs346 cr financial burden over the state exchequer. We will also appeal to the central govt to close the down the toll centres on its national highways so people will get significant relief. The state transport buses are also exempt from paying the toll charges now," said Pawar.
Vinod Tawade, BJP leader, said that the state has taken the decision quite late. "We want all toll centres in state to be closed down and will continue our agitation," he said.
There are a total of 166 toll centre across Maharashtra, out of which 73 are owned by the PWD, 53 by the MSRDC and 40 by the central govt (National Highways).
He said that they will take the all-party leaders delegation to meet the union road and transport ministers Nitin Gadkari and will request him to exempt the state transport buses from paying the toll charges on national highways. "The union should also shut down unnecessary tolls centres which are on national highways. We have done our job, now the central has to do theirs," said Pawar.
The 44 shut down centres are located at Nasik, Amarawati, Nagpur, Jalgaon, Dhule, Aurangabad, Pune, Sangali, Solapur, Satara, and Raigad.
The BJP leaders had earlier said that if they come to power in the state, they will make Maharashtra toll-free. Even MNS chief Raj Thackeray raised the issue and received an overwhelming response from the people.
However, the Congress-NCP run state govt felt that the high toll charges are one of the reasons for its shameful defeats in the Lok Sabha polls. Sources close to NCP leaders told dna that the state govt has decided to initiate corrective measures which can help them to gain the ebbing ground, ahead of the state assembly polls, scheduled in October.