9,400 free passes issued in six months at Pimpalgaon toll plaza

June 5, 2013

NASHIK: The number of motorists who have taken a free pass through the Pimpalgaon toll plaza (around 30 km from Nashik city) on the widened 60-km stretch on the Mumbai-Agra national highway, has gone beyond 9,400 over the past six months.

The Pimpalgaon-Nashik-Gonde (PNG) Tollways, responsible for widening the highway, had expected only about 4,000 vehicles to take free rides through the toll plaza.

Officials of PNG Tollways said they have already issued 9,400 free passes and still counting. the process was still underway

They said that Pimplagaon was probably the only toll plaza in the state, or even the entire country, where such a large number of people had availed of the free passes.

The motorists who have availed free passes include owners of cars and light commercial vehicles like pick-up vans and other vehicles used for transporting agri produce. Meanwhile, the number of vehicles that have availed of the concessional passes is only 600.

The PNG Tollways, which undertook the work of road widening of the Pimpalgaon-Gonde stretch in October 2010, tried to start the toll-collection process in October 2012, on completion of 75% of the work. However, the political leaders and farmers of the Pimpalgaon area stalled the collection on various occasions, bringing up new issues every single time.

Initially, the agitators demanded full completion of the road work before the commencement of toll collection, followed by a claim for complete waiver of toll fee for residents within 20 km of the toll plaza. The agitators then demanded complete waiver for all taxis and vehicles of the state carrying agriculture produce.

Taking into account the frequent objections to the toll collections, the construction company cancelled the Rs 200 fee for motorists residing within the radius of 20 km of the toll plaza, followed by slashing of 75% of the fees for taxis and 50% for trucks registered within 20 km radius of the toll plaza.

However, the political leaders and other activists yet again stalled the toll collection on January 9. On the same day, the PNG lodged complaints against 200 agitators even as it gave in to their demands and once again stalled the process of toll collection.

Subsequently, in a meeting called by district guardian minister Chhagan Bhujbal, it was decided that the toll company would commence its operations, while the responsibility of providing security would rest with the district administration.

The toll collection thus resumed on January 22, in the midst of a thick bandobast provided by the rural police initially. Meanwhile, since the work of the flyover in Nashik is also over and will be thrown open to traffic anytime now, the PNG is likely to increase the toll fees by 60%. The staff, however, fears another agitation in the offing with the rise in the toll prices.

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