Mumbai: The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) on Wednesday told the Bombay High Court that the agreement for toll collection of the Mumbai-Pune Expressway is till 2030. The authority further said that over Rs 22,000 crore is yet to be recovered by the private firm.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni is presently hearing a PIL filed by activist Praveen Wategaonkar alleging several anomalies in the toll collection of the expressway. The PIL alleged that the private firm that was given the contract to construct the expressway has been collecting the toll despite the expiry date of its toll collection as per the agreement.
In an earlier hearing, the bench had sought to know from the state authorities as well as the MSRDC to spell out exactly till what year would it allow the private firm to collect the toll.
In response to the query, the MSRDC filed an affidavit stating that the private firm would be collecting the toll till 2030.
Notably, the petitioner Wategaonkar has alleged that the contract for toll collection was initially for 15 years. He has even relied upon a CAG report that too has specifically said that if the MSRDC had collected the tolls on its own, it could have recovered the amounts latest by 2019. However, since the MSRDC has handed over the construction, maintenance and toll collection of the expressway to a private firm, the time has extended by more 15 years.
In its affidavit, the MSRDC has said that it couldn't recover the target toll amount till 2019 because citizens used National Highway 4 (NH4) so as to avoid paying the toll. The authority has said that now since the NH4 has been widened from a two lane to four lanes, the citizens have no other option but to pay the toll over there too.
Further, the affidavit has trashed the CAG report stating that it was not assessed correctly.
The matter would be next heard in the coming week.