Nagpur: We all must have been thrilled at the idea of zooming past the newly announced 6 lane Nagpur-Mumbai Expressway cutting short the total travel time to 10 hours but hold on! There’s more to it than meets the eye. Be ready to pay the cost of the project through more toll levies. Yes, one the two allies of State Government Shiv Sena pushes forward the view that the cost of Rs 30,000 project should be recovered through levying tax.
Interestingly, this comes at a time when the BJP is considering making Maharashtra toll-free. Its ally Shiv Sena, which controls the MSRDC (Maharashtra State Road Development Department), is planning to levy toll on the proposed six-lane Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway.
This idea completely contradicts the BJP’s promise made during assembly elections. The party had promised in its election manifesto that toll across all the 63 toll booths in state will be vanished. Exemption from toll at the Mumbai entry point was also on the agenda of the state government. Similarly, minister for the public works department (PWD) Chandrakant Patil had announced the toll policy in the recent Monsoon Session of the state Assembly although CM Devendra Fadnavis had announced the Mumbai-Nagpur Communication Expressway only on the last day of the session. Whereas MSRDC minister Eknath Shinde had said that there were several options to raise funds for the project on the same day.
The MSRDC senior bureaucrat on condition of anonymity said that they did not have any option but to impose toll on the proposed Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway to recover project costs. “Some part of the proposed expressway has been developed by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) while some has been developed by MSRDC. We will ask NHAI for connectivity with the state’s proposed expressway,” he said.
The NHAI has developed a segment from Bhiwandi to Shirpur in Dhule district at the boundary of Maharashtra on the Mumbai-Agra National Highway (NH-6). MSRDC has also developed the Sinnar-Ghoti-Aurangabad diversion connecting to NH-6 at Nashik. The bureaucrat said that Nagpur-Jalgaon (NH-3) had also been developed by NHAI. Hence, MSRDC had to develop the segment between Shegaon and Jalna with road connectivity between Jalna and Aurangabad and Aurangabad and Ghoti in the Nashik district being very good. “At several places, the existing four-lane segment will need to be converted into six-lane but the connectivity between Shegaon and Jalna will be the major part to be constructed afresh,” he said.
“There is no alternative to a public private partnership, as MSRDC and the state do not have adequate funds to build a 800 km expressway,” he added.
He said that without participation of private contractors, they could not build even a single road. He added that the toll would be applicable along the Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway to recover costs.