With initiatives like FASTag and others towards electronic tolling on highways, India’s toll collection is likely to reach Rs 1 lakh crore per year in the next five years, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said. “Of the total 1.4 lakh km highways under NHAI, 24,996 km of highways currently is under the ambit of toll and the length will grow to 27,000 km by the year-end,” Gadkari said, addressing a conference to launch One Nation One Tag- FASTag programme.
The programme assumes significance because the Centre has decided that from December 1 all national highway toll plazas will accept tolls only through FASTags.
The initiative aims to integrate collection of toll digitally via FASTag at state highways as well for seamless mobility of vehicles across India. Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Haryana signed memorandums of understanding with the Indian Highways Management Company Limited, an arm of National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), to accept FASTags in their state highway tolls.
FASTags are radio frequency identification-based devices or stickers affixed to vehicles that enable digital, contactless payment of toll without having to stop at toll gates. The prepaid monetary value in the tags can be replenished using bank accounts and other payment methods, just like wallets. At present, 60 lakh vehicles in India have FASTags.
Gadkari said that in line with PM Narendra Modi’s stress for transport system reforms, the GST Council has accorded in-principle approval for integration of GST EWay Bill (EWB) system and a pact has also been inked.
“Our toll revenue is Rs 30,000 crore per annum … As we are constructing more roads, we will move forward with the target that in the next five years, the income from tolls rise to Rs 1 lakh crore every year. If we get such revenues, we can get loans from banks and raise more money from markets and invest in more projects,” the Union Road Transport and Highways Minister said.
Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a conference, Gadkari said there was no dearth of resources and 75 per cent of the projects under NHAI were viable for financing by banks. The cashless system will not only save time but also result in huge savings to the GDP by reducing delays at toll plazas and cutting down on vehicle fuel, he said. He also launched a prepaid NHAI Wallet for FASTag.
Gadkari said the integration of GST EWB system will also result in massive reforms. As per NHAI, in the existing EWB System, it has been observed that some transporters are doing multiple trips by generating a single EWB. Accordingly, an MoU was signed between Indian Highways Management Committee Ltd and Goods and Services Tax Network.
The minister said that integration of EWB system with FASTag will help revenue authorities track the movement of vehicles and ensure that they are travelling to the same destination as the transporter or the trader had specified while generating the EWB. Gadkari added there are plans to build 2,000 bus ports pan-India.