Toll booths have been a bane in the life of motorists for a long time in India. Not only are these physical toll collection systems slow and inefficient, but they have also been topics of contention for many. Fortunately, in a move that is likely a blessing, Nitin Gadkari – Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways – has announced that toll booths will soon be a thing of the past. Instead, the government will be rolling out a new GPS-based toll collection system within one year.
Speaking at the Lok Sabha, the Union Minister said,
“I want to assure the House that within one year, all physical toll booths in the country will be removed. It means that toll collection will happen via GPS. The money will be collected based on GPS imaging (on vehicles).”
Back in December 2020, Gadkari had promised that his ministry will do its best to get rid of all toll plazas in India. Then in February of this year, the ministry along with the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) mandated FASTag. FASTag was implemented to allow automatic and online payment to take place at tolls across the country. The entire idea behind the introduction of FASTag was to reduce time spent at physical toll plazas, reduce fuel consumption and emission, and allow seamless (and transparent) online payment. The system uses a small chip/tag placed on the windscreen of a vehicle. This tag then communicates with scanners placed along automatic tolls using Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology.
According to Gadkari, 93 percent of vehicles currently pay toll using the FASTag system. However, that leaves 7 percent that is still without a FASTag and paying double toll each time. The minister expressed his concerns, pointing out that there are cases of GST evasion and toll theft recorded among those who do not have FASTag fitted to their vehicles. The Union Minister even stated that he has instructed police inquiry for cases where the toll isn’t paid using FASTag. While new vehicles come equipped with FASTag, older ones will be given the system for free in the near future.