The Bombay High Court, on Thursday, ordered the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) to probe into the allegations pertaining to the serious anomalies in the Mumbai-Pune Expressway toll collection matter. It has ordered CAG to submit its findings within a period of two weeks.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni has ordered the CAG to audit the accounts of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) and the relevant financial documents pertaining to the toll revenue records maintained by the authority regarding the toll collection at Mumbai-Pune Expressway.
This comes after the bench considered the contentions of Thane-based activist Pravin Wategaonkar, who has alleged several serious anomalies in the entire toll collection issue.
As per Wategaonkar, MSRDC had subcontracted the work of developing and maintaining the expressway to a private firm in 2004. It was agreed for an upfront payment of Rs 918 crore to the private firm along with an expected revenue of Rs 4,330 crore. In his plea, the activist has claimed that the revenue collected through tolls for a period of 15 years (2004 to 2019) is around Rs 6,773 crore, which he alleges is an excess of Rs 2,443 crore.
Accordingly, Wategaonkar has urged the judges to declare this excess revenue as illegal.
The judges, while ordering an audit of the records, noted the fact that the state government, in its affidavit, has claimed that the private firm would be continuing to collect the toll till 2030. To buttress its case, the state has claimed that citizens evaded paying tolls. Accordingly, the private firm couldn't recover the target amount within the deadline of 15 years.
Meanwhile, judges have issued a further order to the Maharashtra government to spell out its stand on the issue by the next date of hearing, which is scheduled after two weeks.