The residents of Navi Mumbai are alleging that they are forced to pay Toll taxes on behalf of Mumbaikars.
As per the Socio- Economic Survey conducted by City and Industrial Development Corporation, of the total residents of Navi Mumbai around 32 per cent are employed or go for work outside Navi Mumbai on daily basis. This is what makes them use one of the two major Toll plazas Vashi and Airoli. As per the received statistics the Thane Creek Bridge current has a traffic load of 1,40,000 passenger car units (PCUs) per day, while Airoli Bridge has a current traffic load of 40,000 PCUs per day.
Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) has constructed 55 flyovers in and around Mumbai at a cost of Rs.1208 crore. Out of it seven came on Sion Panvel highway – Vashi, Nerul, Konkan Bhawan, Kharghar, Taloja, BARC and CMLR at a cost of Rs 202 crore. To cover the construction cost five Toll plazas were initiated at the entry and exit points of Mumbai at Vashi, Airoli, Mulund, LBS Marg and Dahisar check naka for collecting taxes till 30 September, 2027. As per one of the RTI Activist Dinesh Jain the corporation has collected Rs.640 crore till November 2008 as upfront revenue. While from Vashi Toll Naka itself the upfront value collected is Rs.272 crore. This clearly states that the construction cost has been recovered and also earned surplus revenue. And hence the Navi Mumbaikars must be made free from the Toll tax.
General secretary of the association AK Bhatacharya informed, “It is since the decision of implementing Toll taxes in the year 1999 the residents of Navi Mumbai under the banner of Navi Mumbai Residents Action Committee had raised their voice against the forced toll tax on the Navi Mumbaikars.” He further added, “Initially residents of Navi Mumbai were paying a nominal toll of Rs 8 per car to enter the city through Thane Creek Bridge which was raised to Rs.20 from October 2002. This is what made us approach the high courts which in return ordered reduce by 25 per cent, bringing down the charge to Rs. 15 per car. Moreover we were also able to make the two-wheeler and three-wheeler vehicles go freely. However, this was further revised by Rs 5 after every three years.”
He further added, “Our other reason to object was that, we were the ones who shifted to Navi Mumbai to decongest Mumbai. Why should we pay for the flyovers, when Mumbaikars who will be the most benefited aren’t paying anything,” he questioned.
Riyaz Shaikh a regular user of the Toll Plaza car says, “It’s really unacceptable as I hardly use one single Thane Creek Bridge to reach Mankhurd and are forced to pay the present toll charge of Rs 30 per trip.” Moreover almost all the residents of here are residents of Mumbai itself, and hence every second person has to at least once a day visit across city for some or the other reason. Then why the toll taxes are to be levied on us.” says Titu Yadav, transporter living in Koper Khairane.