Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has decided to shut 12 toll plazas and exempt cars from paying toll on 53 others, public works minister Chandrakant Patil told the assembly on Friday.

The exemption will apply to roads developed by the state public works ministry and will cover 65 out of 80 toll plazas in the state. Users will have to continue paying toll for using Mumbai-Pune Expressway. Toll plazas on national highways won’t come under the purview.

The minister did not mention the compensation amount that the state government will have to pay to the toll plazas operators.

The government’s practice of issuing road contracts on the so-called built, operate and transfer model followed by toll tax had become a major issue in the run up to the Lok Sabha and assembly elections. The Bhartiya Janta Party, which was then in opposition, had then assured to make the state free of tolls if elected.

Maharashtra will have to pay compensation of 7,000 crore to toll operators over the next 25 years, according to an internal report of the public works department. Mint has seen a copy.

Pune-based activist Sanjay Shirodkar, who had filed a public interest litigation on toll tax issue in the Bombay High Court, said, “I welcome the decision but the state government did not exempt motorists from paying toll tax on the Mumbai-Pune expressway and also while entering and exiting Mumbai. Nearly 80% of the toll collection in the state takes place on these plazas."