MNS activists attack toll posts across Maharashtra
Mumbai: A day after Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray questioned the toll collection policy of the state government, hundreds of MNS activists Wednesday attacked and damaged toll posts in various parts of the state, police said.
The activists attacked toll posts in Thane district's Virar and Vasai towns, district headquarters of Nashik, Aurangabad and Buldhana, among other places in Maharashtra. They chased away toll collectors from Virar and Nashik toll posts, according to police.
Training guns on the state government, the MNS chief Tuesday had questioned the collection of toll tax in the state. "It is not wrong to impose toll, but to keep on collecting it even after the costs have been recovered is wrong," Thackeray said.
Thackeray had also sought support from anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, who while endorsing the MNS's stand on toll tax had asked the party to refrain from violence.
The MNS has also found support among many road users who have been demanding an end to the toll collection.
Referring to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan's promise to make Maharashtra "plastic-free," Thackeray demanded that first the chief minister should make the state toll-free to relieve the road users of this burden.
The MNS chief also raised doubts over the manner in which the toll collection was being carried out across the state "without any transparency".
"What is the cost of the project; within what period has the cost been recovered; how many vehicles pass through these toll posts daily... Nothing is displayed at the posts. Yet, collections are being carried out... All these questions need to be answered," Thackeray demanded.
MNS workers Tuesday trooped to various toll posts in Mumbai's Dahisar suburb, Thane's Vasai, and in Nashik district, leading to major traffic snarls, police said.
Mumbai, India's financial capital, has five entry points, which generate an estimated annual revenue of over Rs 2 billion on an average from toll collection, one of the major sources of income for the state government.
The collection is made either directly by the government agencies engaged in building infrastructure or by contractors appointed for the purpose.