Gurgaon: tags no smart solution for eway mess | gurgaon | Hindustan Times
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Gurgaon: tags no smart solution for eway mess

Smart tags and cards have been a puzzle for commuters since the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway was inaugurated. While many daily commuters claim that they are not even if smart tags are still in use, others complain the limited validity of recharge on smart cards makes its usage cumbersome.

gurgaon Updated: Sep 11, 2013 02:58 IST
Snehil Sinha

Smart tags and cards have been a puzzle for commuters since the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway was inaugurated. While many daily commuters claim that they are not even if smart tags are still in use, others complain the limited validity of recharge on smart cards makes its usage cumbersome.

“I have no information about a smart card being issued nowadays and have not even seen any of my friends, who regularly travel between Delhi and Gurgaon, using it. These cards have not been endorsed properly and it seems they don’t want us to use the cards at all”, said Vivek Kamboj, an environmentalist and a resident of Gurgaon.

Interestingly, a high-level panel had recommended use of DMRC-like smart cards years ago, fearing inconvenience posed by renewal of tags.

After the Comptroller and Auditor General’s performance audit of the Gurgaon Expressway in 2008, a specially constituted panel of parliamentarians had taken up the issue.

It had recommended that the NHAI should have a mechanism to monitor the toll plazas with a view to prevent putting the users through unnecessary harassment by way of illegal and unscrupulous methods of toll collection. The committee’s report stated that it understood that the renewal of monthly tags, issued by the concessionaire, is inconvenient to the users.

The committee therefore recommended that these tags be converted into smart cards and can follow the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) smart cards pattern which is renewed after exhausting the amount.

According to information revealed by an RTI, the NHAI observed that when it came to concession for local traffic, there was a lapse of balance amount after its expiry within a month in various cases.

The NHAI further directed the concessionaire to take immediate steps so that no balanced amount lapsed from the card or tag issued to the local traffic from March 2010 onwards. An independent consultant later reported to the NHAI that the concessionaire could not be penalized for lapse in the balance amount, as the clause was not a part of the agreement.

The same consultant in 2011 had reviewed DGSCL’s annual report on the working of toll collecting system and suggested that lapse in balance of discount schemes needed to be reviewed.

After protests on the imposition of toll, the concessionaire introduced tags at discounted rate in 2008. This was later improvised to smart cards in 2012, which the DGSCL, after court directives, is now pushing for. However, the smart cards, though issued free of cost unlike the tags, still carry a validity expiry period of one month if not used adequately. Though the concessionaire told HT that there were cards for which there is no validity of recharge and the balance could be carried forward, but the cards had no discount rates.

‘Why do we pay for mismanagement?’

Expert speak: Dharam Bir Gaba former Haryana minister

The Sirhaul and Kherki Daula toll plazas must go. They have failed to deliver on the promise of making the commute between Gurgaon and Delhi hassle-free. Instead, the expressway exposed motorists to daily traffic snarls.

The two toll plazas have become symbols of exploitation of the public. Why should we pay toll when we already pay road tax is the first and most important question that comes to my mind, given the mayhem unleashed on the expressway.

The next question: When will the city be freed of these shackles as the concessionaire has already earned substantial revenue.

The toll is sapping life out of the city and its residents. Has any part of the city not been affected by the tyranny of the toll plazas? I see none. All have been mauled under the dead weight of the toll plazas which was camouflaged as payment for superior services.

We are paying, not for better services but to make life more difficult. The service roads are narrow and poorly maintained, making them motorable only for heavy vehicles.

Most amenities promised by the expressway operator have fallen into disuse because of lack of proper upkeep.

We continue to pay for inferior services despite high inflation. Prices of all essential commodities have gone through the roof. The toll adds to graph as such commodities are transported by road.

How will the common man survive in such difficult times if people continue to pay for mismanagement?