MSRDC should also announce the logic behind hike
There is a contract between anthe MSRDCd toll contractors which mentions a condition of toll revision every three years. So technically we can say that the MSRDC is right in its move to hike toll charges on the expressway from April, this year. However, my concern is that chief minister Prithviraj Chavan had declared that his government will announce a new toll policy before the polls, which they have not. So on moral terms the government is not right in revising the toll charges from this month. While increasing the toll, MSRDC should also announce the logic behind increasing the toll rates. At the moment, the toll issue is a burning topic. Hence, it is necessary that the government and MSRDC remain transparent and explain why there was a hike of 18 per cent and how they have arrived at such a figure.
—Anil Shidore, State General Secretary, MNS
People want to know where are the funds being spent
The Pune-Mumbai expressway cannot be called an expressway as there are no facilities at all. It has only two food malls, a few resting places and the toilets are in bad condition. The roads are in bad condition, with safety measures missing at many places. There is no proper policing to check and control vehicles defaulting on the 80 km/hour speed limit. Most of the vehicles on the e-way seem to be travelling more than 100 km/ hour speed, which shows that policing is missing. When you are collecting so much toll, the public wants to know where are the funds being spent. I don’t think the toll hike by MSRDC is justifiable. They have to be more transparent on the figure of 18 per cent hike.
—Satish Khot, Civic Activist
Hike is justifiable if it comes with necessary facilities
Looking at whatever services and infrastructure they are providing on the expressway, the 18 per cent hike in toll charges is not at all justifiable. There are fatal accidents almost everyday on the expressway, which indicate to non-existence of safety and security measures on the entire stretch. Taking the expressway route in the night has become scary as no one follows the lane discipline. All the lanes are occupied by heavy trucks making it very difficult for cars to pass through them. There is no one to manage traffic in the nights. It is very easy to charge toll on the booths or hike the charges, but then management of the highway is also important. A person defaulting expressway traffic rules should be taken to task. There is no doubt that vehicular traffic is increasing everyday on the road, so obviously this is also leading to increase in toll collection. The big question is where is all this money going, when the maintenance is not happening at all. A toll hike is justifiable if it comes with necessary facilities and infrastructure.
—SK Jain, President, MCCIA
The policy on toll is always made to be profit-oriented
The MSRDC’s decision to hike the toll is not at all justified. I have been protesting and raising my voice against various discrepancies in this business of toll collection. I have also filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in this regard. Though the PIL has been submitted, it has not been listed for the past one year. As per the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) 1997 rule, the charges on every vehicle is counted by 1 Car Per Unit (CPU), whereas truck/bus is counted as 3 CPU, LMV is counted as 2 CPU and so on. If the vehicle numbers on the expressway cross 1 lakh CPU per day, you cannot increase the toll on that road. As you get the advantage of CPU increase, you don’t get the toll revision advantage. I am sure that on the Pune-Mumbai expressway the CPU has crossed the one-lakh mark long time ago. So this 18 per cent hike is not justified. The policy on toll and the contract with private contractors is always made to be profit- oriented. When the court hearing happens on my PIL, I will be explaining how this policy of toll revision is wrong. When the MSRDC or PWD revises the toll, they are suppose to use the CPU and state’s Wholesale Price Index (WPI) formula. However, none of this formula is used. The state announces the WPI every year in March.
—Sanjay Shirodkar, Road Activist (Toll)
Now, none of the political leaders will talk on the issue
As per the rules, every four years the entire expressway has to be renovated, which I feel has not been done till now. The accidents are increasing on the expressway because they are not repairing and carrying out maintenance works. There is a vigilance committee appointed by the government, which is supposed to take measures if accidents are happening on the expressway. I don’t understand what this committee is doing when fatal accidents are taking place everyday. In fact, with the increase in vehicles on expressway, there should be a decrease in toll charges. If accidents are happening on the expressway frequently, then is something wrong with the road which should be corrected and the builder must be held responsible for the deaths. Now as the general and assembly elections are coming, none of the political leaders will talk on the issue.
—Sanjay Pachange, President, Karntiveer Prathisthan