While the state government has announced that it will shut down 44 toll nakas, MNS chief Raj Thackeray, whose party had protested on the issue, sought transparency in the process of toll collection and demanded that cases lodged against his cadre during the agitation be withdrawn.
"It is necessary to get into the nitty-gritty (of the announcement)," he said while speaking to a Marathi news channel on Tuesday, adding that it would not be correct to celebrate early. He noted that after MNS had kicked off its first phase of agitations against toll, the state government had declared that they would close down 65 toll stations. Later, it claimed it would shut down around 25 such nakas, which collected toll for projects costing under Rs1 crore.
Raj questioned if the 44 toll nakas, which were to be closed down, were part of the 65 that the government had promised to shut down earlier and, if this was the case, it amounted to cheating. He also asked about the number of toll plazas in the state.
Raj pointed out that road users in Thane heading to the Konkan had to pay toll twice — at Mulund and Airoli — and said that while the Centre had mandated that the distance between two toll stations was to be a minimum 80km, the state had issued a government resolution (GR) bringing it down to just around 30-40km. He noted that the Mulund and Airoli nakas were just a couple of kilometres apart, which was unjust.
"We are not opposed to toll. There is no transparency in the money being collected for toll. It is a cash business," said the MNS chief, who has announced that he will be contesting the coming state assembly elections and will also be the party's chief ministerial face.
"Our agitation was correct. The cases slapped against our boys (MNS activists) must be scrapped," said Raj, adding that "if the government woke up after an agitation, then the cases against those boys who agitated must be withdrawn."
Speaking on the Campa Cola case, Raj pointed out there were many such buildings in Thane as well. He noted that the people staying in such structures were not guilty of any illegalities and questioned why action had not been taken when the construction of such buildings was underway. "When will action be taken against those who constructed such buildings?" he questioned.