Written by Manasi Phadke | Mumbai |
Protests at the Kamothe toll plaza earlier this month.
MSRDC proposed to expand Thane creek bridge by further securitising toll collection at Vashi toll booth.
Even as there has been a major controversy surrounding toll collection on the recently refurbished Sion-Panvel highway, another road infrastructure project pending with the state government for approval proposes to levy toll on the same stretch.
The state government is currently looking at a proposal by the NCP-led Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) for the expansion of the Thane creek bridge, which is steadily turning into a major bottleneck, especially after improvements to the 23-km Sion-Panvel highway.
The cash-strapped MSRDC has proposed to expand the Thane creek bridge by further securitising toll collection at the Vashi toll booth or by raising funds through bonds and recovering the finances via an add-on toll at the Vashi booth.
Mumbai Entry Point Ltd is already collecting toll at Vashi near the Thane creek bridge as part of the five entry points of Mumbai where the MSRDC has securitized toll collection for 16 years. Cars currently pay Rs 30 one way as toll, with the amount set to increase to Rs 35 from October this year as per the toll notification. If the MSRDC’s proposal of funding the Thane creek bridge expansion is accepted, the scheduled toll rates could increase or this user fee could continue for a longer period.
S M Ramchandani, joint managing director at the MSRDC, said, “The proposal is currently with the urban development department for its comments. From there, it will go to the planning department, finance and then the state cabinet.”
A senior state government official said the Public Works Department (PWD) had already given its remarks on the proposal saying there should not be any add-on toll, and the project should be funded with a government outlay.
Ramchandani said the issue over toll collection for the improvements to the Sion-Panvel highway would not have a bearing on the Thane creek bridge expansion project as the former entailed setting up of a new toll booth at Kamothe, while the latter would pertain to an existing toll booth.
The NCP-led PWD had undertaken the Sion-Panvel road improvement project on a build, operate, transfer basis with a concession period of 17 years and five months, including the three years of construction. However, following a shrill demand from all major political parties, especially leaders from the ruling Congress and NCP, the government has brought about a stay on this toll and constituted a chief secretary-led committee to study the issue.
Ashish Roy,TNN |
NAGPUR: City truckers have expressed surprise that the toll operator of Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) for recovering IRDP expenses was incurring losses. They claimed that the toll operator staffers charged their truck drivers more than the prescribed toll.MSRDC has five toll plazas around the city at Katol Road, Hingna Road, Umred Road, Ring Road between Hingna-Amravati Road and Wadi-Katol Road. Sahkar Global operates four of them. MSRDC is not finding takers for the three-year toll collection contract. Sahkar has been asked to continue its contract and it is reluctantly doing so.One of the reasons given by the operator and MSRDC officials for low revenue collection is reluctance of truck drivers to pay toll at night. A MSRDC official had told TOI that many truck drivers had beaten up toll plaza staff to avoid paying money.
Faizan Khan, secretary of Truck Owners and Brokers’ Association, claimed that it was the other way round. “The operator’s men extort money from drivers. At least ten to fifteen people are present at a toll booth at night and they easily intimidate one or two people in a truck. Truckers from outstation suffer the most,” he alleged.
According to Khan, the truckers have lodged several complaints with Wadi police, MSRDC and local politicians but to no avail. “The toll receipts do not mention the vehicle number. As a result, if a truck driver is charged extra, we can’t prove anything. The plaza staffers many times charge two-way toll from the trucks, which have no possibility of returning that day,” he further charged.
Pic for representational purpose. – A Veeramani/DNA
After contemplating the idea of having an elevated road between Bandra and Dahisar, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) now plans to build an elevated rail and road link between Thane and Kalyan.
Speaking todna, SM Ramchandani, the joint managing director of MSRDC, said, “There is a plan to have an elevated road along National Highway 3, that is the Thane-Bhiwandi Bypass Road, for which we have floated bids for consultancy services.”
The consultant is likely to be appointed by the end of this month, who in turn will carry out a feasibility study including a ground survey, cost estimation, financial model, among other things.
In fact, even the Indian Railways has expressed interest in being part of the project by stating that the elevated road corridor can also accommodate a railway line.
The planned elevated link will be around 22-25km long, with entry and exit ramps in between.
The purpose of the project would be to decongest the increasing traffic due to rising population in the far-flung areas of Mumbai.
The state has been focusing on creating new Central Business Districts in the Mumbai metropolitan region, keeping the larger picture of decongestion of Mumbai in mind. However, due to the large cost associated with this elevated rail and road project, it is unlikely that it will be constructed in the near future.
Another official said that the plan is currently in the nascent stage and it should not be considered that the project will take off in the next couple of years.
Saurabh Katkurwar, Hindustan Times Mumbai, June 17, 2013
The city’s most expensive skywalk, which is being constructed at Nana Chowk, has been delayed till August due to unfinished work pertaining to escalators and staircases. According to the latest deadline, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation Ltd (MSRDC) was supposed to open the 510-meter skywalk to the public in mid-June.
“Due to monsoon, some of the skywalk work is delayed. The remaining work is expected to finish in a month. The skywalk will be made open to people in August,” said MSRDC managing director Bipin Shrimali.
The original cost of the project was Rs39 crore when work commenced way back in 2008. As per the original deadline, the skywalk was supposed to be ready in June 2009. The cost has now escalated to Rs50.48 crore due to the four-year delay.
The oval-shaped skywalk, which is supported by 16 stress cables suspended from a central tower located at Nana Chowk, has three escalators and four staircases for its different arms. The MSRDC is yet to finish construction of these escalators and staircases.
“We are left with some work pertaining to escalators and elevators, which will be completed soon. In addition, finishing touches are being given to the skywalk,” said MSRDC chief engineer Subhash Nage.
Although the MSRDC claims that the skywalk will witness about 50,000 pedestrians daily, transport experts refute their claim. Transport expert Ajit Shenoy said: “The staircases and escalators have been built at the wrong locations — they are not in the direction of pedestrian flow. So commuters will not prefer to take the skywalk.”