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NHAI to start rolling out satellite-based tolling on national highways soon

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NEW DELHI : Soon, national highways in India will have satellite-based tolling systems. Shri Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport and Highways, said that the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will start rolling out the new system soon. The Minister told the Rajya Sabha that NHAI will roll out a satellite-based tolling system on national highways by March, 2024.

Recently, India informed the World Bank about notable advancements in cutting waiting durations at toll plazas and easing export release times at land ports. With the implementation of FASTag, the average wait time at toll plazas has dramatically dropped to a mere 47 seconds, a substantial improvement from the prior 714-second wait. In a recent discussion with World Bank representatives, the Indian government outlined its strategies to further upgrade the nation’s infrastructure.

Till the end of November, the construction and expansion of National Highways in the first nine months of this fiscal year have surged by approximately 10% compared to the same period between 2011 and 2023. However, the allotment of new projects for construction has notably dropped by almost 52% this year.

According to data from the Road Transport Ministry, agencies within the road transport and highways ministry have completed or broadened 5,248 km of NHs by November, compared to 4,766 km during the corresponding period last year. Despite the government’s target of constructing and expanding around 12,000 km, achieving this goal appears challenging with only four months left in this financial year.

The pace of bidding for new projects has significantly slowed down compared to the previous year. In the April-November period of 2022-23, agencies had bid for 5,382 km of work, whereas this year, it’s barely reached 2,815 km.

Concerns have been raised regarding the delay in the approval of the revised Bharatmala Phase-1 or alternate programs, impacting project bidding. This shortfall in awarding projects this year might affect construction progress in the FY 2024-25.

The finance ministry has instructed the road ministry not to initiate new projects under Bharatmala without fresh cabinet approval, influencing the development of over 8,000 km of NH stretches under the government’s flagship program.

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