Bombay HC May Initiate CAG Investigation Over Mumbai-Pune Expressway Toll Collection

Bombay HC May Initiate CAG Investigation Over Mumbai-Pune Expressway Toll Collection

The contentious toll collection issue on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway has now received a new turn as the Bombay High Court is expected to ask the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) to perform a thorough review of the toll collection done by the contractor. The contractor is looking for an extension of the toll collection contract until 2030.

The division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by activist and advocate, Pravin Wategaonkar. The petitioner said that he was challenging the toll collection on the expressway while also looking for a declaration that toll collection on the expressway from August 2019 is deemed illegal under the Motor Vehicle Tax Act, 1958.  

Also readMumbai-Pune Expressway: MSRDC Says ₹22,370 Crores Pending From Toll Collection

The court expressed surprise that the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) was unable to recover the total capital outlay of the project valued at ₹3,632 crores since the Mumbai-Pune Expressway was opened for the public in 2004. The court has asked the State Advocate General and the Additional Solicitor General to appear on Thursday. 

Talking about the MSRDC affidavit filed in response to the PIL, Wategaonkar told the bench that their affidavit made no mention of the total capital outlay for the project or the timeframe in which the amount was to be recovered as per the Build-Operate-Transfer agreement between the MSRDC and the contractor.

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While the court asked the MSRDC about the overall cost of construction, the counsel for MSRDC could only submit documents highlighting that ₹3,632 crore was recoverable back in 2004 while the recoverable amount now stood at ₹22,370 crores. The court expressed its surprise that the project cost is yet to be recovered. Since the MSRDC affidavit was filed without any supporting documents, the court also said that it deserved to be rejected.

The court later wanted to know how much of the toll money collected was going towards benefitting the public and how much of it was going to the contractor’s coffers.  

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