In a protest organized by Somatne Toll Hatao Kriti Samiti and residents of Maval taluka, demanded the closure of the Somatane toll booth on March 14. The protesters argued that the tolls are illegal and causing significant hardship for local residents. Ravindra Chavan, public works minister, assured that the Somatne phata toll naka will be temporarily closed.
The Somatane toll booth, located within 10 km from Toll naka Municipal Corporation, has been operating under an agreement between IRB and Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation Limited (MSRDC) since 2006. The agreement was extended until 2019, and it has been estimated that the tolls will collect ₹880 crores. So far, ₹2500 crores have been collected.
The toll booth affects 100 to 150 villages, and locals are charged ₹65 for a one-way toll. The protesters argue that the tolls are causing financial hardship and are illegal.
Ravindra Chavan, PWD minister has assured residents that he has spoken with both deputy chief minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde about the toll booth. Chavan was sent by the Chief Minister, and he has promised to hold a meeting after the session Toll Abolition All Party Action Committee to discuss the possibility of toll abolition.
“Earlier the agreement was made in 2006 to operate the toll plaza till 2019, where the estimated toll collected was supposed to be ₹850 crores but more was collected. And again an agreement has been made in 2020 by MSRDC to operate the toll till 2030. Whereas, this is affecting local residents as they have to pay ₹65,” said Ganesh Bhegade, BJP District President.