Bombay High Court Orders CAG To Conduct Enquiry IntoToll Collection On Mumbai-Pune Expressway

Bombay High Court

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Pune, 19th March 2021: The Bombay High Court has ordered a probe regarding the Pune-Mumbai Expressway toll collection. The court has directed the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) to conduct a thorough inquiry and submit the report. The Mumbai High Court passed the order while hearing a petition filed by RTI activists alleging a massive scam in toll collection on expressways.

In 1999, the state government built an expressway between Pune and Mumbai at Rs 2,000 crore and handed over the toll collection responsibility to MSRDC. However, in 2004, MSRDC awarded a 15-year toll collection contract to IRB for Rs 900 crore. The contract expired in September 2019, and the contractor stated that it collected 4250 crores from the toll after fifteen years.

Hence, MSRDC re-tendered to recover the remaining toll, and five months later, in March 2020, the IRB again won the contract for ten years. This time, however, the IRB had to pay Rs 8,500 crore. The MSRDC said that if we compare the amount paid for the tender with interest, we would need to recover another Rs 22,370 crore. Thus, the toll would need to be collected for till 2030.

Right to Information (RTI) activists Vivek Velankar, Praveen Wategaonkar, Sanjay Shirodkar, and Srinivas Ghanekar filed a petition at Mumbai High Court against the toll plaza. During the hearing, the court directed the CAG to investigate the toll. It is an unsolved riddle as to why the toll collection work on the expressway, originally built by the state government at its own expense, was outsourced to a private contractor in 2004.

According to the petitioners, if the tender process and counting of vehicles had been done transparently, the toll collection of Rs 3632 crore would have been completed by 2004 alone. However, the petitioners allege that there is no transparency in the number of vehicles traveling on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway every day.

According to the contractor, about one lakh vehicles travel on the Pune-Mumbai Expressway every day. However, the private contractor claims that fifteen to twenty thousand of them go without paying the toll.

The toll-collecting authority IRB also claims that about 8,000 government vehicles travel on the expressway every day without paying the toll.