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Satellite-based toll collection likely before Lok Sabha polls : Nitin Gadkari

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NEW DELHI : The centre plans to implement satellite-based toll collection on highways before the Model Code of Conduct for the 2024 general election kicks in, Road Transport Minister Shri Nitin Gadkari informed Parliament on Wednesday.

“We are trying to implement satellite-based toll system very soon, perhaps before the Code of Conduct for the Lok Sabha election,” Gadkari said in Rajya Sabha.

The technology, which has been under the government’s consideration for over three years, will replace FASTags, which are prepaid and rechargeable tags utilising radio frequency identification (RFID).

Positioned on the vehicle’s windscreen, FASTags allows a user to pay the highway fee electronically, eliminating the need to pause at toll collection booths established by highway operators.

From 16 February 2021, the government has mandated the use of FASTag for both private and commercial vehicles. According to the regulations, vehicles lacking a valid or operational FASTag are subject to paying double the toll charge as a penalty.

The implementation of FASTag has drastically decreased the average waiting time at toll plazas to a mere 47 seconds, marking a substantial 93 per cent improvement from the previous average of 714 seconds, as reported by India to the World Bank last week.

While there has been significant progress in reducing waiting times at specific locations, particularly those near cities, densely populated towns still experience some delays at toll plazas during peak hours. The initiative to implement GPS-based tolling is a part of the endeavor to further minimise waiting times at toll plazas.

In the new system, a photo of the vehicle’s registration plate will be captured, and the toll amount will be debited according to the actual distance traveled by the vehicle on the highway.

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), tasked with implementing the technology, has tested it in Delhi and Gurgaon, with plans for a forthcoming trial in Bangalore.

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