Mumbai: Maharashtra government said that it will soon devise a system where toll charges could be paid through a credit card, a move that would help reduce traffic snarls at tollbooths. Raising the issue of toll booths during the Question Hour, leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde said despite the promise of a toll-free Maharashtra, state government has so far not stopped any toll plaza from operating.
"Toll booths have long been affecting people of the state. Even cricketer Sachin Tendulkar had to write a letter to the chief minister. Isn't it true that toll collection started at the Kharghar booth even before work was completed there?" Munde said. Replying to Munde's charges, state PWD minister, Chandrakant Patil said initially five villages near the Kharghar toll naaka were exempted from paying charges and soon more villages will be included. "Initially, five villages and around 30-32,000 cars were given special passes. Later, more people requested such exemptions. We have constituted a committee to study this matter and based on its report, we might include more villages in our exemption list," Patil informed the House. Further, expressing 'respect' for Tendulkar's concern over the issue, Patil said the former iconic cricketer’s observations (on traffic jams) were made based on what he saw while he was at a toll booth.
"While he was at the Kharghar toll booth, people around came to meet him which had caused a jam. When the Kharghar (toll) booth started, 98 per cent of Phase-1 was completed. Yet, we tried to halt toll collections for three months but we had to oblige the High Court's order," he said.
To a query on foreign countries using technology to ensure smooth traffic at tollbooths, Patil said the CM has taken a software demonstration yesterday that will help commuters pay toll through credit cards. "Once the software is agreed upon, consumers will be issued an online pass that will just need to be shown at toll booths," Patil said. He said the government is also trying to devise a way, by which neither CIDCO nor the state government will have to pay contractors to stop toll plazas, and at the same time ceasing operation of redundant toll booths.
Replying to Patil, Munde said while his government (Congress-NCP) had stopped operation of 44 toll booths, the ruling government has been able to stop none despite making promises during election campaigns. Patil replied that toll booths initiated during the previous government's regime have no buyback option and that the government is considering legal options....