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Maharashtra bows to Raj Thackeray, to introduce new toll policy
Thursday February 13, 2014 6:09 PM, IANS

Following massive anti-toll protests by various parties in recent times, the Maharashtra government will introduce a new toll collection policy, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said here Thursday.

"We are trying to bring in the new toll (collection) policy before the Election Commission's model code of conduct," Chavan said before a meeting with Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray here.

Chavan invited the MNS chief for talks on toll policy Thursday in the wake of a massive state-wide road agitation by the MNS Wednesday.

Among other issues, Thackeray demanded a transparent toll collection policy to reduce the burden on common man.

"We demanded that toll should be abolished on 28 toll locations where the project costs are between Rs.1.50 crore-Rs.10 crore," Thackeray told reporters.

On this, Chavan assured that the government is thinking of eliminating toll on smaller roads and buy back smaller roads constructed on toll basis for which a budgetary provision would be made.

Thackeray demanded that multiple toll levy in locations which are very close by should be stopped, as in Thane and Airoli in Navi Mumbai which are situated only two km apart, but people have to pay at both sides.

"Until the new toll policy is announced, nobody should pay toll at any toll post. If the toll contractors still forcibly collect the toll from the people, then we shall go to their homes and deal with them in our style," Thackeray warned.

He added that the MNS's anti-toll agitation would continue till there is a complete transparency and the new toll policy is implemented.

MSN spokesperson Nitin Sardesai said that of the total 145 toll posts in the state, toll collection could be stopped immediately on some 28 toll roads or bridges which have been constructed at costs below Rs.20 crore.

Chavan announced that the Maharashtra State Transport and Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) buses will be exempted from toll tax to ensure that the common man does not bear the brunt of the cost.

Sardesai said the government should also compel toll operators to provide facilities like toilets, drinking water and other conveniences as stipulated in their contract.

Chavan said the government would stop toll collection where the project costs have been recovered or the contract period is completed. The audit would be conducted on those toll posts where there are allegations of financial irregularities, he added.

However, the chief minister said that vandalism and violence at toll posts would not be tolerated.

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