MSRDC collected toll for 10 years without cash flow statements from contractors!
Believe it or not, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corp (MSRDC) actually states in black and white that it is conducting transaction surveys to finalise the foreclosure of concessionaire claims. So, for 10 years they collected toll with no cash flow statements.
 
Last week, we wrote how MSRDC was been caught wasting tax payers’ money for repeating the video graphic traffic survey on a state highway and five entry points of Mumbai. (Read: Strangely, MSRDC once again calls for video graphic traffic count survey at Mumbai’s entry points)
 
Pune-based Right to Information (RTI) activist Sanjay Shirodkar, promptly sent a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, questioning the call for e-tenders, once again, for the same work. The state Chief Secretary had forwarded Shirodkar’s letter to the concerned department, that is, the MSRDC, to provide explanation.
 
In his reply, V Suresh Babu, Executive Engineer, MSRDC, actually admits that video graphic and transaction survey is necessary for the road over bridge (ROB) on Peth-Sangli-Miraj state highway, hold your breath, “to finalize the foreclosure of concessionaire claims.” He further says, “This survey is to be conducted as per the directives of PWD, Government of Maharashtra.” It is pertinent to note here that toll was collected for a good 10 years and after citizens’ protests, which also involved legal intervention, the toll on this 8km ROB has been stopped. 
 
So, what was MSRDC or the Public Works Department (PWD) was doing for three long years when collection was nil? More importantly, can there be a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in a public-private-partnership (PPP) model where the private operator can get away by collecting toll, without giving cash flow statements, which comprises  entire financials regarding expenditure by the contractor, the MSRDC, the cost of maintenance of the stretch of road, and the predicted profits in a particular time frame?’’ “It is totally illegal,’’’ says Shirodkar, “and reeks of complete mismanagement of money collected from the public.” 
 
The above was in reply to his question: “Why should there be a toll count once again when the toll plaza of Peth-Sangli-Miraj-Mhaisal SH 138 @ 8km. 56/420, was closed after residents protested and there was a court order?’’
 
The second question that he posed was regarding the repetition of the viedographic traffic survey for all the five entry points of Mumbai, when a similar exercise has been conducted two years back by the CP Joshi Committee. This report is not being made public, instead, another one is ordered.  Why is this report, being kept a secret? 
 
The reply by Suresh Babu to Shirodkar, states, “You are aware that the report was submitted to government. The decision process is still in progress. As such, the government has jurisdiction in this regard.” 
 
Shirodkar says, “If the MSRDC itself states that the report is with the government , then why is it not taking action on that report, which I know, has the entire details of the financials of each and every toll plaza in Maharashtra? It may be noted that a video-graphic traffic survey is so large that it comprises 30 toll booths (TBs) and that is a whopping amount of public money which has already been spent, once.”
 
Indeed, it is all about allegedly saving the contractor’s skin!
 
(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”.)
 
Comments
Jitesh C Rudraksha
8 years ago
We have been observing many politicians, TV channels highlighting this issue of Toll. However, till date we see no concrete actions taken on it. People like you should come forward and educate the mass about the actions. For eg. Is it compulsory to pay toll, if you live in the vicinity of 5 Kms of the Toll booth, just by displaying a PRESS plate on the dashboard can somebody be spared from paying Toll, etc..
Ashish U
8 years ago
Pathetic , I hope toll will be abolished before BMC election .
jaideep shirali
8 years ago
Whatever be the issue, the outcome seems to be depressingly the same. The law enforcers and the law makers, directly or through their cronies, are the worst abusers of any law in this country. It really is time, that citizens stopped the undue respect that both these classes have showered upon themselves, that too with public funds. We need to ask questions, the tougher the better, before we exercise our choice and power.
Kisan Karnad
8 years ago
Absolutely shocking! I have been using the MEP Vashi toll naka everyday. I have a Value based Cash Card which is not swiped half the time by the toll booth attendants. Just shows they have some predetermined daily target and not serious in collecting toll transparently.
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