The toll booth on Pune-Mumbai Expressway near Khalapur stopped collecting toll from vehicles from Saturday evening as a mark of respect to the late Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray.
The expressway witnessed heavy traffic of more than 3,000 buses and cars on Saturday and Sunday as the Sena chief’s supporters and Shiv Sainiks made a dash to Mumbai for the last darshan and to attend the funeral.
Usually, the toll booth managed by Ideal Road Builders (IRB) charges Rs165 per car and Rs495 per bus.
Though the toll naka earns the most on weekends, it made an exception this time and let the vehicles pass through without charging any toll.
Balasaheb Landge, deputy general manager of IRB at Khalapur toll naka, said, “Though we earn most on weekends, we decided not to collect it as we did not feel right to keep the Shiv Sainiks waiting in line for paying toll. So, from Saturday evening to Sunday evening, we let all vehicles going to Matoshree pass without charging any toll.”
Similar was the case at Talegaon toll naka. The attendant there told DNA, “The traffic flow was moderate on Saturday evening, but it started increasing from late Saturday evening. By midnight, around 2,000 cars and buses had passed the highway. The crowd increased in the early hours of Sunday with women members of the party rushing to Mumbai. We let nearly 3,000 vehicles pass without collecting toll. At the toll nakas, police teams were guiding Sainiks about the route and parking areas in Mumbai to avoid congestion.” “Most Shiv Sainiks were composed, while some were crying. Some vehicles were playing slogans and speeches made by Balasaheb Thackeray.”