Demonetisation of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes has pushed toll payment through electronic mode rather than in cash, something the highways ministry failed to do in the past two years. In the past 20 days, toll collection through electronic mode increased by at least 540 times, according to NHAI data.
Even the sale of FASTags, a common tag that can be used across all toll plazas on NHs, has increased from only 1,462 on December 1 to 5,635 on December 20. The average daily sale of these tags is around 3,223. Since its launch two years back, the banks responsible for popularising the use of these tags had sold only 1.08 lakh tags till November 30. The toll collection through electronic mode went up from Rs 65,897 on December 3 to nearly Rs 3.58 crore on December 21, NHAI said.
“The numbers will increase significantly next month. Now four banks – ICICI, Axis, IDFC and SBI – are selling tags. They will reach out to bulk buyers such as truck fleet owners and cab operators in a big way. What we need to do is increase the number of lanes that can process the tags to deduct toll,” said an NHAI official.
Though at present, highway operators are also collecting user charges using point of sale machines, the aim is to convert more people to use FASTags, which enable vehicles to pass through toll lanes without stopping. According to estimates, toll plazas in India will be congestion-free when 60-70% users pay toll through electronic mode.
The proposal of large scale use of smart tags was first mooted in June 2010 and a pilot run was conducted in August 2012. But it did not get enough attention until recently.
Besides reducing the processing time at toll plazas, use of smart tags ensures no leakage in toll collection as all records are captured electronically. These can also be used for tracking movement of stolen vehicles or in case of any emergency. Aleksander Barkov Jersey