Citizens' Issues
Toll to Poll: Why more citizens need to file RTI for exposing the loot

Political parties have been making violent noises over toll charges intermittently and then falling silent. However, the real truth about toll collection will come out only if more citizens file RTI applications asking relevant questions

The tirade against toll charges in Maharashtra, which incidentally are the highest compared to other states has been going on for quite a while. Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare had steered a campaign, which led to the closure of 31 toll nakas out of the 165 in the state; former IPS officer SM Mushrif has sought legal intervention with the matter in the Supreme Court; Moneylife has undertaken inspection of files under Section 4 in the case of Pune-Mumbai expressway case. Every now and then political parties indulge in violent protests against toll charges, allegedly more for political one-upmanship than sorting out the issue that is burdening commuters.

In the last fortnight, toll collection centers or plazas have been vandalised by Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) in various parts of the state. A similar exercise had been undertaken by the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) earlier. Presently, Nav Bharat Democratic Party’s Maval candidate Harshvardhan Sukhatme has undertaken `Munnabhai’ style of protest by offering roses and get-well cards to staff and officers at toll plaza.

In order to know real truth about collection of toll by relevant private agency, which is designated to look after the operations, maintenance and security of the highway/expressway, it is very pertinent for a large number of citizens to file applications under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the toll monitoring unit of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC). The duties and responsibilities of the toll monitoring unit, as mentioned on its website, it is bound by duty to have “Correspondence with members of legislative assembly (MLAs), members of Parliament (MPs) and other people related with toll matters. Giving replies to queries under Public Information Act.’’

So, what is the kind of information you can get under RTI?

You can ask for a copy of the contract agreement between the MSRDC and the private agency. I had procured the 800-odd page agreement in the Pune-Mumbai expressway case.

Why is this a public document?

Because as per Section 4 of the RTI Act, any such agreement/ contract which affects the public at large demands transparency. You can also ask for information regarding the amount of toll tax collected, month wise, since the time the contract came into existence; what is the methodology of monitoring tax collection by the MSRDC; what is the amount of toll collection that would cover the cost and profit of the private agency and at which point of time would it become a freeway; what is the ratio of toll tax shared between the MSRDC and the private agency; who is the officer In charge of this monitoring;
documents pertaining to action against private agency in case it has not adhered to deposit the toll money as per norms; documents pertaining to any action taken against the toll monitoring officer in case he has failed to efficiently monitor the collection of the private agency and so on.

While the above information can be sought under Section 6 of the RTI Act, wherein you write an application but would have to wait for 30 days to get a reply, it is more advisable to do inspection of files under Section 4 of the RTI Act, by visiting the office on any working day during the working hours.

I used Section 4 of the Right to Information Act (RTI) between 25th March, 2011 to 28th March, 2011 to request for the inspection of files of the contract agreement between the MSRDC and Ideal Road Builders (IRB). I also asked for the year-wise data of the amount of toll collected from April 2004 to February 2011. I visited the MSRDC office in Pune for this.

As per the statement of IRB, which it has sent to MSRDC, it had collected Rs949.45 crore up to September 2010. When I asked about the authenticity of the toll figures supplied by IRB, the MSRDC officials threw their hands up saying that they were not responsible for this. However, I pointed out to them that this was in total contradiction to the information available on their website,, under 'duties and responsibilities of its toll monitoring unit' which states that: MSRDC is responsible for: monitoring the toll receipts; scrutinising claims of various toll collecting agencies and put for approval by competent authority; taking action against defaulters as per contract conditions; corresponding with regional offices regarding toll collection work and; giving replies under the Right to Information Act.

However, mum was the word. Horrifyingly, the MSRDC has appointed an independent consultant for this work and he actually told me that they monitor the maintenance and operations of the IRB but not the collection of toll revenue!

States Mushrif, “as per Rule 6 'verification of fee collection' sub-rule 1: it should be the responsibility of the person (the MSRDC in this case)…to strictly ensure that all fees leviable are levied, collected and correctly maintained. The person shall submit certified audited copies of the statements of fee collection at specified intervals as required under the notification for collection under sub-rule 2 of Rule 3. The auditor shall be appointed by the government. And as per sub-rule 2: The central government shall have the right to check the fee collection at any or at all times through their designated officers.'' 

All about MSRDC’s Toll Monitoring Department

  • A separate Toll Monitoring Unit has been established from April 2002 to monitor the toll collection work.

    The PWD had earlier resolved that the toll collected would be remitted to the MSRDC vide its no. Government Resolution No. TOL 1097Cr2004Roads-7 dt. 29.05.98.

    The PWD has subsequently raised the limit of levying the toll on the works costing Rs100.00 lakhs & more vide Government Resolution no. PSP-1099CR no. 209 Roads-9 dated 27.06.00.

    The rates and concession of the toll are governed by the following GRs
  • GR No Khaksep2002\PrKr279(II) Roads 9 date 09.01.2003.
  • GR No Khaksep2002\PrKr279(III) Roads 9 dt.09.01.2003.
  • For IRDP works, toll rates and concessions are governed by
  • For Nagpur – Aurangabad – Sinner Ghoti road, rates and concessions are governed by GR No Khaksep1099\Pr.Kr.227\Roads 8 Mantralya dt. 15.06.2002.

Duties and responsibilities of Toll Monitoring Unit

  • Submission of proposals to Government for issue of toll notifications and pursuance;
  • Floating of tenders for collection of toll and fixing agencies;
  • Monitoring the toll receipt;
  • Scrutinising claims of various toll collecting agencies and put for approval by competent Authority;
  • Action against the defaulters as per contract conditions;
  • Preparing para wise replies to the Court cases and follow-up till the verdict of court;
  • Correspondence with regional C.E. & S.E.’s of Camp Offices of MSRDC regarding toll collection work;
  • Correspondence with M.L.A.s, M.P.s and other people related with toll matters. Giving replies to queries under Public Information Act.

(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)



Sharath Alva

3 years ago

The issue of higher toll tax being collected in Maharashtra is relevant and needs a thorough revision. The fact that many political parties recognize this issue is good but when they oganize mass protests and block the highways and destroy public property it is a matter of concern. The common man who is already affected by the higher toll taxes has further apathy inflicted on him when a few public transport vehicles are destroyed. The toll taxes never undertake a revision and the common man now faces further inconvenience with respect to transportation facility.
I was not aware that an independent consultant is commissioned by the MSRDC to look into the maintenance and the operations part. But the fact that they are not looking into the revenue collection is nothing but making a mockery of the way our government functions.
In other states that I have been the toll tax is low and the highways are well maintained. But the expressway stretching between Pune and Mumbai is a money guzzling project which even after a decade has failed to recover its operational costs. If 1000 crores is the money that IRB has collected so far then the company should have already gone bust. There is no way it could have survived.
It is indeed apalling to see that the political class being highly uneducated consider the common man as one who can be easily made to believe that it is in the interests of the aam aadmi that they strive for.

Shivangni Sharma

3 years ago

Cautioning RTI enthusiasts, my personal experience is that people file RTIs on frivolous issues too, many government officers just manage to clear the massive onslaught of RTI applications instead of getting on with their real work.
Perhaps collaborative effort in filing RTIs would help
Just a thought on what I saw in one department in Delhi


Deepak Challam

In Reply to Shivangni Sharma 3 years ago

Most govt. officers don't do any productive work in anycase. Perhaps you haven't heard - India works when the govt. sleeps. Better to occupy the troublemakers with RTI queries than allow them to do more mischief.

Dr Paresh Vaidya

3 years ago

Apart from getting the information through RTI, there is some larger issue of Natural justice here. How can a government collect a toll on a road (Or Express Way)which is the only,default route to a place. If you develope a new road like Pune Espress Way,it is understood. But as Ms Dalal mentioned on the CNN- IBN programme, how Old Mumbai Pune Road can be tolled?

This basic road existed 200 years ago,carved out by villagers. It is only improved by the government. Improvement is their job, out of overall revenue. If that also is priced in retail as toll, then a day will come I can not get out of my hose without paying a toll, because that street is asphalted by the municipality.!! This is ridiculous.
Our campaign should be ,"Toll Only for New roads"


Dayananda Kamath k

In Reply to Dr Paresh Vaidya 3 years ago

why pay toll at all. why are you paying tax then? to feed govt employees and have elected them to provide governance not to mismanage and loot you.for getting the contract they pay a premiume to nha for what this amount is utilised. and in some places they have allowed land to be given to the developer.which is also public property. so you are making double payment to the contractor and good portion is pocketed by politicians and beurocrates.


3 years ago

if aomebody has filed an rti please provide a format copy of the same to file another rti

New Exploration Licensing Policy without the need for clearances!

Under the auction of the new licensing policy, bidders can look for all types of hydrocarbons, such as gas, oil, coal bed methane or shale

Two weeks ago, during the Petrotech 2014 meet at Noida, petroleum minister Veerappa Moily gave some details of the new auction planned, where as many as 86 blocks may come under the hammer! This time Moily stated that only those blocks that have all clearances will be offered for auction.


At present, he stated that 46 blocks have all the required clearances and, by 15th February, hopes to get all blocks cleared, so that bidders have no problem. Out the 46 blocks on hand now, 17 are on land; 15 are in shallow water while 14 blocks are in deep water. These blocks are spread over in Gujarat-Kutch, Kerala-Konkan, Cauvery, Krishna-Godavari and Deccan.


This new auction will be under Uniform Licensing Policy of Hydrocarbon acreages. They will include a new contractual system and fiscal model. The most important change is that, under this auction, bidders can look for all types of hydrocarbons—gas, oil, coal bed methane or shale. This change is in line with what the bidders have been demanding in the past.


The Rangarajan Panel has suggested that production-linked revenue sharing would be desirable, as against which the existing cost recovery model has to be compared and a suitable decision to be made by the government. Just to recapitulate, the current production sharing contract allows for cost recovery by exploration and production (E&P) before companies pay the government its share. This method has caused a lot of discussion and debate. Perhaps, the method suggested by the Rangarajan Panel would be more appropriate.


It may be noted that some of the blocks that will go under the hammer, includes those relinquished by Cairn India (which wants to bid again), and some of which were taken away from Reliance. The only exception made recently refers to the intention of the petroleum ministry which would seek CCEA (Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs) nod to allow Reliance and its partners (British Petroleum and Niko Resources) to conduct drill stem test, which they could not conduct within the stipulated time, and these cover earlier discoveries in KG-D6, such as D6, D30 and D 31, in spite of the objection by DGH (Director General of Hydrocarbons). This is a procedure to establish hydrocarbon discovery in acreage.


There are couple of other major changes that are likely when this auction takes place. Currently, the tax holiday is for seven years and the Ministry of Petroleum is contacting the Department of Revenue, if this could be increased to 10 years. The other change that may happen refers to the recommendation made by the Kelkar Committee that the Petroleum Ministry and DGH should restrict themselves to supervise the technical oversight of the contractors and leave the revenue aspect to the finance department. This will effectively curb the enormous powers exercised by DGH.


The DGH needs to build a strong technical team who would be able to guide and assist the contractors in order to focus on the object of increasing the production of hydrocarbon resources in the country and by undertaking exploration of the unexplored areas.


(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)


50 ways to get rich right now

If you have to pay $50 for a get-rich-quick scheme, who’s getting rich — you or the person you’re buying the scheme from?

How easy is it to get rich quick? Real easy, according to the Internet. Here are 50 ways we found to make plenty of money fast. And while some ideas may actually work (you really can get money from sperm donations), other ideas may not be so great. If you have to pay $50 for a get-rich-quick scheme, who’s getting rich — you or the person you’re buying the scheme from?

1. Buy gold.

2. No, wait. Sell gold.

3. Or maybe buy and sell gold.

4. Gold is out. Silver is where it’s at.

5. You could say five magic words to your teller and walk away with free silver.

6. Maybe both. Maybe buy gold and silver.

7. Maybe forget about gold and instead use the Bible’s Money Code.

8. Or just let God multiply your riches.

9. Use passive income to make a $4,520 a month in the next 30 days.

10. Maybe invest in something like the new, free, unspecified highway being built across America.

11. Or invest in Blue Fire Oil Drilling.

12. Invest in thorium.

13. Invest in coal and rake in a 240% return.

14. Invest in switchgrass.

15. Invest in 3D printing.

16. Invest in this company that was hand-picked by Steve Jobs in 2005 but they are not going to tell you what it is until you give them your credit card information.

17. Invest in a toll bridge” company that profits from all cell phone sales.

18. Invest in a copy of Ron Paul’s lost “Gold Bible.

19. Invest in natural gas.

20. Invest in a small group of stocks that will go through the roof when the Pentagon unleashes Plan X.

21. Invest in Internet video technology.

22. Invest in uranium.

23. Invest in video games.

24. Invest in iCash, Apple’s new currency.

25. Invest in Chilean companies.

26. Use a backdoor to invest in the secret stock market U.S. Presidents use after they leave office.

27. Or just invest in something you don’t own: Become a paper landlord and collect rent checks without owning property.

28. Game the system. Use one weird trick to add $1,000 dollars to your Social Security check.

29. Bitcoins, baby. Bitcoins.

30. Harness the power of options.

31. Buy the Major Market Trend Indicator, which is powered by the Market Timer Algorithm that specifically searches for high-expectancy stock opportunities and other such jargon.

32. Maybe it’s time to harness Mother Nature and build your own miniature solar and wind power plant on your property to save big on electricity.

33. Understand the market’s opening range.

34. Sell adult toys online, a booming business.

35. Like this one company on Facebook and you’ll have financial freedom in 24 months.

36. Be a successful investor by following this rule: Don’t lose money.

37. Slap Warren Buffet’s name onto something for instant money.

38. Sell your keyboard stocks.

39. Escape from the USA . . . without ever leaving home and somehow profit.

40. Build wealth with the dividend machine.

41. Listen to the secret Bill Gates told a well-known New Yorker.

42. Foreclosures for Cash!

43. Use little-known corporate loopholes to collect an extra $2,000 every week.

44. Sperm donations.

45. Use the “Mainz” source of income to collect royalties.

46. Use the Lost Secret of Investing.

47. Flip real estate for fun and profit.

48. Penny Stocks. Lots and lots of penny stocks.

49. Trust no one.

50. If all else fails? Collect underpants and profit.





Hariprasad A

3 years ago

Satire article in ML..😉

We are listening!

Solve the equation and enter in the Captcha field.

To continue

Sign Up or Sign In


To continue

Sign Up or Sign In



The Scam
24 Year Of The Scam: The Perennial Bestseller, reads like a Thriller!
Moneylife Magazine
Fiercely independent and pro-consumer information on personal finance
Stockletters in 3 Flavours
Outstanding research that beats mutual funds year after year
MAS: Complete Online Financial Advisory
(Includes Moneylife Magazine and Lion Stockletter)