Mumbai: The Maharashtra government informed the Bombay High Court Tuesday that it had decided against exempting vehicles using the Mumbai-Pune Expressway from paying a toll. In an affidavit filed through the Public Works Department (PWD), the government informed the court while it had initially contemplated exempting light motor vehicles from paying levy at five toll plazas along the expressway, it had decided against granting any exemptions for now.
The state told a bench led by Justice R M Savant that it had considered factors like the flow of traffic, number of vehicles using the expressway each day and its financial resources, and decided that all vehicles will have to pay toll at the plazas along the expressway at least till April 2030. The submissions were made by the government in compliance with a previous order of the high court.
In July this year, the high court had asked the state to decide whether toll plazas on the expressway were to be scrapped since IRB Infrastructure Developers, the contractor in-charge of the 90km corridor, has already collected Rs 145 crore more than the anticipated amount through toll collection.
The court was hearing a plea seeking that the right of the contractor to collect toll along the expressway be revoked. The plea, a public interest litigation (PIL), has been filed by four petitioners, including activist Pravin Wategaonkar. It claims the contractor has already recovered the cost of the project as per its agreement with the state authorities and yet, continues to collect toll, thus making a “wrongful gain”.
The plea claims that earlier last year, the chief minister had announced that 12 toll plazas across the state would be closed.
The PIL also claimed that the state had promised to exempt light motor vehicles from paying toll on 53 toll plazas across Maharashtra from June 1 2015, but the state had failed to take a final decision on the same. The state, however, informed the bench the contractor (IRB Infra) had neither made any wrongful gains nor had it breached any terms of the contract with the government. The high court is likely to conduct further hearing in the matter on September 27.