CM promises policy but Raj warns contractors

Mumbai :  A day after the MNS agitation on the toll issue, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan announced that a new toll collection policy is on the anvil. He has also assured Raj Thackeray that toll collection will be stopped at 22 toll plazas where the project cost was less than Rs 10 crore.

CM promises policy but Raj warns contractors

But the assurance did not stop Thackeray from warning toll contractors of dire consequences if they collect toll in the interim.

Invited to discuss the issue by the Chief Minister, the MNS president had a two-hour-long meeting with Chavan. Afterwards, the Chief Minister said, “We have incorporated some points raised by Raj Thackeray. We started working on the new toll policy last year, which awaits the cabinet’s nod.”

 Responding to Chavan’s appeal, Raj announced that the MNS protest rally from Girgaum Chowpatty to the Mantralaya slated for February 21 has been put off. But he also said in the same breath: “I appeal to people not to pay the toll till the state government implements changes in the policy.”

 “If you don’t want to pay the toll and if anyone at the toll plaza forcibly makes you pay, we will wreak havoc at the house of the concerned toll contractor,” the MNS president said. “Then the government should not blame us.”

“I met Chavan following his phone call. He has assured me that the new toll policy will be brought in before the code of conduct for elections comes into force,” Raj said.

  “The Chief Minister conceded mistakes in the state’s BOT policy and said the government will reconsider it,” he said.  “Chavan further agreed that the condition of roads in the state was bad. He also assured us that the government will wind up all illegal toll booths,” he added.

The MNS leader said he requested Chavan to stop collection at all the toll plazas till there is a proper audit of their functioning.

Raj said he also drew the Chief Minister’s attention to the large number of accidents on the toll roads. “Several people have been killed on toll highways.’’

 PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal, other MNS leaders, senior state government officials and a few  journalists also attended the meeting.

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