12000 FASTags to VIPs for toll-free ride.
The government will provide about 10,000 to 12,000 FASTags for vehicles attached to persons and dignitaries who are entitled for “free ride” through toll plazas on National Highways (NHs) across the country.
Though the number of these “zero transaction” tags seems big, officials said this will be much less as compared to the number of people including the number of VIP hangers-on who have been enjoying free ride claiming themselves to be in the ‘exempted’ category.
Officials in National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) said toll operators don’t get any user fee from nearly one lakh transactions every day out of a total of 20-25 lakh transactions. “There is a huge revenue loss and the operators have been complaining against the chronic problem” , said an NHAI official.
Toll charge of a vehicle fitted with FASTags is automatically detected when it reaches the Toll Gate. Zero transactions tags are the ones issued with NHAI and these don’t have any balance. These tags have a validity period of for free passage. The authority has already provided FASTags to each sitting MP- one for a Delhi vehicle and another for a vehicle used in Delhi constituencies- so they can travel for free.
After extensive misuse of the “exempted category” was flagged by road transport ministry, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked it to come out with a plan to roll out the new scheme to curb this menace.
Sources said the ministry has prepared a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for rolling out the scheme. Indian Highways Management Company Limited (IHMCL), an SPV under administrative control of NHAI, will seek applications through the regional offices across states and people can apply online for the zero transaction tags. “After verification of the vehicle number and the entitlement of the applicant, tags will be issued. So, only those vehicle with these tags will be allowed to ply without paying user fee”, said an official.
This pilot will also help the government to assess how many trips don’t generate any revenue and may also help the government consider whether it should do away with the exemption category as it was done in the case of red beacons for VIP’s.
According to NHAI rules, vehicles transporting and officially accompanying 25 dignitaries including President, PM, Chief Justices of the Supreme Courts and High Courts, Union Ministers, Chief Ministers, judges of SC and HC’s , defence chiefs and MPs are exempted from paying toll.
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