Ending a major traffic concern, Mumbaikars are in for a treat as the Kharegaon Toll Plaza will be finally shutdown. Starting from 13th May 2017, residents will no longer have to pay toll at Kharegaon toll to enter or exit the city. The toll plaza that falls on the Thane-Bhiwandi bypass, is Maharashtra's oldest, and ends its concession agreement later this week with the city's Public Works Department (PWD). The same has been cited as the reason for the seizure of its operations.
Apart from being Maharashtra's oldest toll plaza, the Kharegaon toll is historic for several other reasons. It was the first road project in India and was undertaken on a build-operate-transfer basis by IRB Infrastructure Developers. Work on the Thane-Bhiwandi bypass was completed in 1997, while the Kharegaon Toll Plaza commenced collections from 1998. The overall cost of the project was ₹ 104 crore with an additional cost of ₹ 180 crore for maintenance.
Meanwhile, IRB, said that it has earned ₹ 677 crore till December 2016 through the toll plaza. While toll collection started in 1998, details of money collected were only available from 2002, when the authorised resolution was passed by the government.
The Thane district has 18 toll nakas with the Kharegaon toll plaza being a highly important one, given it connectivity to North India. Over the years, the toll has been notorious for its long traffic snarls, especially during peak hours. The bypass is also flooded with heavy vehicles going towards Nashik and Bhiwandi, which further add to the never ending traffic jams.
The Kharegaon toll plaza's closure will emerge as a relief for commuters. It also adds to the list of 65 other tall plazas that were shutdown across the state in 2015, as per the state government's directive.