In a bid to provide commuters relief from traffic jams in the Thane district, the state government has stayed toll recovery at Airoli and Mulund toll centres till September 23 for light vehicles. PWD minister Chandrakant Patil and PWD minister (public undertakings) Eknath Shinde, who is a Shiv Sena leader from Thane, announced the decision.
BJP vice-president, MP Vinay Sahastrabuddhe, had submitted a letter about this to Mr Patil and now, both Sena and BJP are trying to take individual credit for providing relief to Thane residents. Traffic jams have become a serious issue in Thane district ever since the Mumbra bypass was clos-ed in May this year for major repairs. Traffic diversions have worsened the situation and since the past couple of days, the Airoli and Mul-und toll plazas have witnessed serpentine queues. Thousands of Thane residents, Mr Sahastrab-uddhe, MLA Jitendra Avhad and others demanded that toll recovery be stayed at least for one month or till the Ganpati festival got over.
A meeting was held in the chamber of PWD minister Eknath Shinde regarding the issue in Mantralaya on Monday by PWD minister Chandrakant Patil and Eknath Shinde, in which secretary C.P. Joshi, MSRDC MD Radheshyam Mopalwar, and toll contractor Virendra Mhaiskar of MEP were present. It was decided that from Tuesday, recovery of toll from light vehicles (cars) would be exempted or stayed till September 23 at all three toll plazas. The government issued directions to the IRB in this regard.
Due to closure of the Mumbra bypass, vehicles plying from Navi Mumbai towards Nashik and Ahmedabad have to pass through Airoli. Owing to this, there is an overload of Thane and Navi Mum-bai traffic, too, and long queues are being seen for the past several days. Mr Shinde directed the department to complete repairs of the Mumbra bypass till September 10. As an immediate measure however, toll recovery was stayed for light vehicles at the three toll centres. Sources said that the Sena and BJP are now both trying to take credit for the decision.