Before even completing the globalization process, India has marched well ahead as far as collecting the toll is concerned. India may be collecting more toll than developed countries. The several toll booths & the speed-breakers before and after them are really painful & pinching for the vehicles, drivers & vehicle owners. All the people paying the toll, collecting the toll & those who are not concerned with it, will have to pay a heavy price for the severe pollution due to wastage of fuel in & around the toll booths & octroi posts. In figures the cost of fuel wasted & the pollution caused due to toll booths, octroi posts & speed-breakers could be much more than the money collected there.
Suppose I stay in Thane. If I have to go to Airoli which is about 5 km., I have to pay Rs. 50/- as toll one way. This amounts to Rs. 10/- per km. If I go to Pune I end up paying Rs. 168/- as toll one way & spend at least 15 minutes on the four toll booths. This amounts to more than one Rupee per km. If I go to office from Thane to Chembur, I spend Rs 1000/- for monthly Toll pass which is valid for one car only. It cannot be used in the car pool. This means I spend Rs. 12,000/- every year on Toll. This is about 3 percent of an average man's salary. I don’t think there is so much toll anywhere else in the world.
How much toll has been collected so far, how it was utilized & how much toll is to be collected in the coming years, all this should be made open to the public by the Government. The toll collection today is totally one sided, unjust & biased. Without giving any reasons the toll was increased from Rupees 15 to 20 & then to 25. In spite of the number of days in the month or on which date you buy the pass, the price is fixed to Rs. 1000/-. If you have two cars, you are more rich. Buy two passes. One pass will be valid for one car. The Government has deliberately passed on the responsibility of collecting toll to a private company. The toll collecting gangs are comfortably robbing the people. Whether the annual receipt of the toll to the Government is more or less, right or wrong is not known to the public. Since the Government is paying a silent observer role, it is injustice for everyone.
The extra Rupee will be able to abolish the toll & octroi completely & there will be no injustice on anyone. Anyone using 200 litres fuel monthly will spend 200 Rupees extra & the one using 50 litres of fuel monthly will spend 50 Rupees extra. But by paying the toll & octroi, today we are directly or indirectly spending more money than the proposed extra Rupee. Secondly all the money collected as toll & octroi is not spent on public works. Lot of money is spent in maintaining the systems collecting toll & octroi. The extra Rupee proposed on petrol & Diesel will on the other hand go directly to the Government without any extra cost through the existing network only. We are in the computer age. The extra Rupee so collected can be disbursed to the existing toll & octroi posts in the same proportion all over the country. The Government can get rid of the debts of all the contractors. In future there won’t be any BOT projects required. The Government can take up all such projects with its own finance. The public will be proud of such self dependent Government.
Today thousands of people are paying toll & octroi by standing or sitting in long queues, finding their way through traffic jams on bad roads. This exhibit of shameless tolerance can be seen day & night throughout the country. I don’t think it can happen anywhere else in the world. I am also one of the shameless characters in the tolerance exhibit. Anybody can think why am I so arrogant to write all this. Instead of that I should stop the extravagancy of using the car every day & stay away from toll & octroi. But for convenience, comfort &for saving time I want to use the car.
It will be now sixty years since independence. But it is decided that Thane is out of Mumbai limits. Its like another state. Once it is decided like that, it is easy to rob the people both ways in the form of toll & octroi. BEST can operate in New Bombay but not in Thane. If there is BEST service from Thane lot of people like me will stop using their car everyday. Using car is no more a status symbol, it is becoming a necessity. The number of vehicles is going to multiply in the future. Unless these traffic jamming and polluting octroi & toll booths are irradicated the vehicle movement will not be possible then.
Once we get rid of the octroi & toll posts, there will be tremendous saving in the fuel, which will increase the foreign reserves. In a longer run we as a country will be able to reduce the fuel prices by avoiding the wastage of fuel in traffic jams.
There may be some objections in getting rid of the speed breakers. But we must find solutions to these problems & get rid of the speed breakers. Whenever any vehicle has to be stopped either for a pedestrian carelessly crossing the road or for a speed breaker, fuel is wasted & pollution increases. This is well known & need not be told again. But when a person stops for the vehicle to pass, nothing is wasted. This needs to be told to people at all levels. Instead of building speed breakers every corner, there should be a speed limit at such places. People on the roads should follow their rules & vehicle owners should follow their rules. Anyone breaking the traffic rules & the drivers driving irresponsibly causing traffic jams should be punished strictly. If the police could achieve this we will be proud of such police & such Government.
These are the feelings of a middle class civilian. Experts in the field may refine the procedure and advise accordingly.