More than 35,000 commercial vehicles have been slipping into the capital every day without paying tax since the implementation of the radio-frequency identification (RFID) project at 13 toll plazas. This is as per an internal report prepared by the South Corporation. Around 85% of vehicles enter Delhi through these 13 points.
Implemented at the toll plazas on July 17, the RFID technology allows for automatic toll deduction. Commercial vehicles entering Delhi have to pay a green cess or environment compensation charge between Rs 700 and Rs 1,400, and toll between Rs 100 and Rs 2,000, depending on the vehicles’ size and category.
There are separate RFID lanes for commercial drivers and the money is deducted through the RFID tag installed on the windshield. The deadline for commercial vehicles to switch to the cashless RFID system was September 14.
According to an official, on an average, over 35,000 commercial vehicles get away using the free lane meant for private vehicles every day. This causes losses up to Rs 35 lakh per day for the vendor issued the contract to run the system, he said, adding that the estimated losses will run into crores every month. There are 58 RFID lanes and 38 free lanes at toll plazas.
The official also said they are unable to halt vehicles for checking as it would lead to traffic snarls. Over the past few months, officials said the number of people dodging tax had shot up after toll collectors were ordered not to station bouncers at booths. It has slipped further since RFID implementation, they said.
At some toll plazas, the official said, there are plans to install high-resolution cameras in all lanes to monitor those who don’t pay tax. “This will ensure we have licence plate details of all such vehicles. But to penalise them, we need a centralised system of sharing information with the traffic and transport department as they have the database,” he said.
“Another option is to equip all lanes with RFID, which will cost another Rs 50 crore. This is a policy decision that needs to be taken keeping the South body’s weak financial condition in mind,” the official added. Developing the present structure cost the corporation around Rs 80 crore, while equipping all lanes with RFID will cost around Rs 125 crore.
SDMC standing committee chairperson Bhupender Gupta said any project has initial hiccups, but it gets streamlined in later stages. “I will hold meetings with officials to chalk out a solution,” he said.
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