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Indian highways to become toll booth-free in 2 years: Nitin Gadkari

Union minister Nitin Gadkari announced that the government is working to make the highways tollbooth free. The Minister for Road Transport and Highways said this on Thursday while speaking at the ASSOCHAM Foundation Week. Instead of the current toll booths, a specialised GPS-based toll collection system will be put in place for seamless toll collection.

According to Gadkari, the government has finalised a new toll collection system that will be implemented throughout the Indian highways. It is in collaboration with the Russian government. The new toll system will ensure that the vehicles do not have to stop at the toll plazas for the collection of money. Instead, the new system will deduct the money directly from the linked bank account. The bank account will be linked to the registration of the vehicle.

The government says that they will make use of the GPS installed in the cars to make the new system successful. In fact, only a few top-end variants of the new models offer factory-installed GPS system. However, the government says that they will find a way to install in all the cars including the old vehicles too.

It should be noted that the Indian government has made the FASTag system mandatory across India. All the vehicles have to install a FASTag to make payments at the toll booth. This was aimed to reduce congestion and the implementation has been happening for a few years now. The government keeps on extending the last date of fully implementation FASTags at the toll booth across India. After the implementation, all the lanes of toll booths will become FASTag lanes and the cars without the tag will have to pay double toll amount.

Gadkari claims that the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) could attract a revenue of Rs 1.34 trillion in just five years after the GPS-based toll system is implemented in India. Gadkari also said that the toll collection is expected to reach Rs 34,000 crore by March 2021.

In the virtual conference, Nitin Gadkari said,

“We have thoroughly examined and finalized the GPS-based toll collection system with the help of the Russian govt. And within 2 years, India would be toll booth-free. The GPS system will be used to track the vehicles and the due amount would be deducted from the respective bank accounts.”
Nitin Gadkari, however, did not say what will happen to the existing FASTag system that was rolled out recently throughout the Indian highways. The government made it mandatory for all the private and commercial vehicles travelling on the highways to have a FASTag and pay through that. In February 2018, NHAI said that it is conducting pilot rin of GPS-based tolling and the study has come out to be successful now.
While many other countries tested the same in the past, there is not a single country in the world that has implemented the GPS-based tolling system. In 2007, Netherlands legislated the implementation of the GPS-based tolling system and prices were decided by 2011. The country set a deadline to implement the same by 2016. However, the project was declared controversial and was put on hold. No progress report on it since then. There are many who have criticised the privacy invasion of the GPS-based system.