By May-end, you will be able to enjoy a seamless drive on NH-1 between Delhi and Chandigarh, without having to queue up to pay toll.
On Thursday, the road transport and highways ministry took the first step in the direction when road minister CP Joshi inaugurated India's first interoperable radio frequency identification (RFID) tag-based electronic toll collection system (ETC) on a small 27-km stretch on NH-5 between Zirakpur (near Chandigarh) and Parwanoo (Himachal Pradesh) on a pilot basis.
The system will be extended to the 273-km NH-1 by the end of the month and to all the 192 toll plazas operational on national highways across India by 2013.
"Once that happens, one will be able to drive across India using one RFID tag without having to wait to pay toll. It will cut down the delays and congestion at toll plazas," said Joshi who also inaugurated the four laned Zirakpur-Parwanoo stretch on Thursday where the ETC system has been installed by Jaypee Group, the project developer.
Presently, different ETC systems are operational at toll plazas on the Delhi-Gurgaon, Badarpur-Faridabd and Bangalore highway stretches. But none of them are uniform or interoperable.
With ETC in place, all that a driver would have to do is buy an RFID tag priced R100, get it recharged for R500 or more, stick it to the vehicle's windshield and enjoy a seamless drive without stopping to pay toll. A central toll clearing house is being set up to manage the monetary transactions. Initially, the tag will be distributed from the toll plazas, but later one will be able to get it from designated centres across the country.
For the pilot project, ICICI Bank has been selected to run the central clearing house. "Once we expand the ETC, tenders will be floated to appoint an agency to run the central clearing house," said an NHAI official.
If the ministry is successful in starting the RFID tag-based ETC across the 192 toll plazas operational on national highways, India will become the only country to have a uniform interoperable ETC facility across its length and breadth. Western countries use different ETC systems in different cities.