Planning to take the highway while travelling over the weekend? Be prepared to pay toll. The government had abolished toll at all national highways and state toll points following demonetisation of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. But 23 days after the decision was taken, toll collection is set to resume from Saturday. All toll booths have been equipped with card swiping machines, so there might be long queues, as people pay toll using credit or debit cards.
In Mumbai, there are five toll booths for entry into the city. The toll booths, run by MEP Infrastructure Limited (MEPL), are located on the Sion Panvel highway at Vashi, Airoli Bridge in Airoli, Lalbahadur Shastri Marg and the Eastern Express Highway in Mulund, and the Western Express Highway in Dahisar. The minimum toll at all five booths is Rs 35, and motorists will have to pay this from midnight of 2 December. Moreover, there is also a toll naka on the Bandra-Worli sea-link, and this too shall carry a Rs 60 toll.
Highest toll collection in the state of Maharashtra takes place on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. Toll for the 95-kilometre road is Rs 99 for a one-way journey for a car.
Following the centre’s decision of demonetising old notes, Road and Surface Minister Nitin Gadkari had announced all national highways will waive off their respective tolls. Following this announcement, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis also declared that toll nakas in the state, run by Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), the Public Works Department (PWD) or by private companies, will all waive toll collection until 2 December.
According to the transport corporation of India and a study by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), the average waiting time at a toll naka is three minutes. Going by this average, said RTI activist Sanjay Shirodkar, thousands of minutes and crores of rupees in the form of fuel, have been saved across the country.
However, toll free travelling is unlikely to become a reality any time soon. Talking to Firstpost, PWD minister Chandrakant Patil said it is just not possible to do so. “We are preparing a new transparent policy, to make small vehicles exempt from paying toll. There is an option of buy back in the agreement, which is what the Congress-NCP government had done before. The new government, which has been in power for two years, has shut 12 toll nakas permanently, while 53 others have exempted small vehicles from paying toll. The government has paid Rs 798 crore on account of this,” Patil said.
He added that the state will follow the Centre’s directives to National Highways; if the latter will become toll free, roads in Maharashtra will follow suit. “Over the last 23 days, the five toll nakas in Mumbai — each earning an average daily collection of Rs 1.97 crore — have all incurred losses. If the extension is to continue, the period of toll collection will also increase,” he pointed out.
First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 20:20 IST