Protest at Khed-Shivapur plaza: Commuters get temporary relief from toll fee on Pune-Satara Highway

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The agitators claimed that the government was charging a toll despite tardy progress of development work on the Pune-Satara Highway (NH4).

Commuters from Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad driving to Satara will get a temporary exemption from paying toll fee at the Khed-Shivapur plaza, Baramati MP Supriya Sule said Sunday.

The announcement came after hundreds of protesters and over a dozen political leaders gathered at the toll plaza on Mumbai-Bangalore highway in the morning demanding that it be shifted outside Pune district.

The agitators claimed that the government was charging a toll despite tardy progress of development work on the Pune-Satara Highway (NH4). Earlier, Pune District Collector Naval Kishore Ram had also recommended that the toll plaza would be closed due to widespread protests and slow progress of work.

The agitation, called under an all-party action committee, was withdrawn later in the evening after protesters were assured that Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari would meet a representation of the locals to resolve the issue and commuters were extended a temporary relief from paying toll tax.

“He (Gadkari) is presently on a visit to Sweden. Once he’s back in Delhi, a group from here will go there to hold a meeting and resolve this issue. Meanwhile, local National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has decided to temporarily open two lanes on each side (of the highway) for the local vehicles from Bhor Velha, Mulshi, Khed, Haveli, Purandar and Pune. These vehicles will be able to pass without paying the toll tax. If they happen to take any other lane, they can avail the benefit by showing proof of local address,” Sule said.

Earlier, when locals had threatened to force the toll booth management to stop toll collection, the contractor, Reliance Infrastructure, had said it was willing to discontinue the work as there were no funds.

Last month, after District Collector Naval Kishore Ram recommended that toll collection may be stopped, a fresh deadline to complete the work was fixed. But nothing concrete has transpired since.

While Gadkari had met NHAI officials in January, no official decision was taken to cancel the toll on NH4.