Chaos at toll points after EPCA orders for cashless recharge of RFID tags
A month after the use of RFID tags was made mandatory, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, which is the nodal agency to implement the RFID project, said that only 14,654 commercial vehicles — as against over three lakh tags sold — were using the tag to enter the national capital.Updated: Sep 15, 2019 06:55 IST
Long traffic jams and scuffles between truck drivers and toll tax staff were witnessed at all 13 border entry points of Delhi on Saturday, after the deadline for commercial vehicles to switch to the cashless RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) system ended.
A month after the use of RFID tags was made mandatory, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, which is the nodal agency to implement the RFID project, said that only 14,654 commercial vehicles — as against over three lakh tags sold — were using the tag to enter the national capital.
The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) on Friday had said that commercial vehicle owners/drivers must cooperate in the project to make toll collection at border entry points automatic and electronic through RFID. Also, from Saturday on, those who insist on paying cash — including those who had the tag but had not recharged it — will be charged double the toll tax and Environment Compensation Charge (ECC).
South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) officials, who are implementing the project, said that serpentine queues of trucks, tempos, buses and cabs formed at the toll points as drivers refused to pay the penalty for not getting an RFID tag or recharging them electronically.
The worst jams were witnessed at Rajokri and Kapashera in south Delhi while truckers had heated arguments with toll staff and sat on a dharna at Ghazipur in the east, said a senior SDMC official. Police personnel from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana had already been put on standby by SDMC anticipating trouble, and many commercial vehicles managed to cut through the free lanes meant for personal vehicles.
Of the roughly 19,000 commercial vehicles that passed through Delhi’s 13 main border entry points between midnight and 5 pm on Saturday, at least 2,625 were caught and fined for either not buying the RFID tag or not crediting money in the e-wallet linked to the tag (it starts with zero balance), officials said.
Yashpal Dahiya, senior engineer with SDMC overlooking the project, said, “More than 3 lakh commercial vehicles have purchased the RFID tag from us so far. However, of these, only 14,654 have credit money in the online wallet linked to RFID.”
“This is defeating the entire purpose of our project, which is to make entry of commercial vehicles into Delhi seamless with minimal human interference at toll tax collection points,” he said.
EPCA officials said they are sticking to their deadlines and have done everything to facilitate purchase and online recharge of the tags by truckers and cab drivers so far. “We understand that they will take time to switch to the new system and have discussed the details with them at every stage and helped them in every way possible,” said EPCA member Sunita Narain.
“Now, it is their turn to cooperate with us and make this project, which is critical for Delhi’s pollution, a success,” she said.
The RFID system was first mooted after the Supreme Court announced a new Environment Compensation Charge (ECC) on diesel-guzzling trucks that come into Delhi daily in 2015.
Associations of truck drivers, however, said that teething problems still remained with the RFID system. “Some of our drivers claim to have recharged their RFID tag but the toll staff says it’s not registered with their system. Also, vehicles carrying essential goods like grains, fruits, vegetables and milk — that were exempted from ECC by the Supreme Court — are also now being charged electronically when passing through the tool booth,” said Kultaran Singh Atwal, chairman, All India Motor Transport Congress.