Full FASTag system at Kherki Daula toll plaza from today, only one cash lane on either sideUpdated: Feb 14, 2020 23:14 IST
Gurugram: The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will start collecting toll only through FASTags in all but one lane on either side of Kherki Daula toll plaza Saturday onwards. This means that there will be 23 FASTag lanes and two cash lanes on either side at the plaza. Further, pursuant to a directive from the road transport ministry to the NHAI on Friday night, the number of cash lanes may be increased depending on the flow of traffic, for 30 days.
According to NHAI officials, at least 80.02% commuters going through the toll plaza every day now pay the toll using a FASTag, up from 58.69% on December 15 when the FASTag system was introduced across national highways in the country.
Officials said there will be a complete roll-out of FASTag system from Saturday with no scope for further extension of the deadline. Ashok Sharma, project director, NHAI Gurugram, said, “ From February 15, full FASTag lanes will be implemented at Kherki Daula, leaving just one cash lane on either side.”
The NHAI had, on January 15 this year, relaxed the norms for the complete implementation of FASTags for 65 toll plazas, including Kherki Daula, so that commuters get enough time to buy FASTags.
The Delhi-Gurgaon expressway concessionaire, officials of the Millennium City Expressway Pvt Ltd (MCEPL), said that having only one cash lane on each carriageway will lead to chaos at the toll plaza. During the FASTag trials that lasted almost two monthsat the Kherki Daula toll plaza starting December 15 last year, there has been congestion when we have reduced the number of cash lanes, the concessionaire said.
S Raghuraman, CEO, MCEPL, said, “If NHAI tells us to go with one cash lane, we will have to do it but this will lead to chaos at the toll plaza. There are many commuters who still haven’t taken FASTags.” There are 19 FASTag lanes at the plaza and six canopy (extended) lanes, adding up to a total of 25 lanes at the plaza.
NHAI officials said that from February 15, each canopy lane will have one more FASTag lane, decreasing the number of cash lanes from the present two to one on either side. “We are left with no option; we have to go by what the rule says, to implement complete FASTag. There are three split lanes on either side at the canopy (extended). From Saturday there will be one cash lane and two FASTag lanes in these extended lanes,” added Sharma.
On Friday evening, the road transport ministry issued a letter to the chairman, NHAI that a relaxation for 30 plazas that have high cash transaction be made, including Kherki Daula. “Considering the request of NHAI and further that the citizens are not put to inconvenience to tide over issues raised for the period of next 30 days, it is decided that depending on the traffic pile up at these 30 fee plazas, not more than 25% FASTag lane of fee plaza may be temporarily converted to hybrid lanes. This is to be considered and decided on a case-by-case basis not below the level of regional officer concerned. A daily evaluation of such cases be made to take necessary corrective action and a summary report on daily basis be sent to the ministry,” the letter read.
The officials also added that NHAI has given “ample time” to commuters to buy FASTags and they don’t expect another extension. This cash lane is in addition to the one in the main plaza.
“The number of commuters using FASTags at Kherki-Daula toll plaza is around 80.02%. FASTags will be available at Kherki Daula toll plaza after Saturday for those who want to buy it,” Sharma said.
Meanwhile, the MCEPL has issued around 1,000 free FASTags to local residents from 31 exempted villages. “There are 17,000 vehicles belonging to residents of the 31 villages, and they can come to the toll plaza and get their exempted tags from the toll,” said Anish John, systems manager, MCEPL.
The highways authority has still not given out any exempted FASTags to government vehicles as their papers have to first be approved by the ministry of road transport and highways.
Officials said that all the radio-frequency identification (RFID) readers are being replaced, a process due to be complete next week. Further, to ensure that they are able to better scan the FASTags, they will be installed at a lower height than the readers being replaced.
“The RFID readers are being replaced on NHAI’s request. There was nothing wrong with the readers which were changed, but since the highways authority asked us to replace them, we did. We are in the process of changing all RFID readers by next week,” said Raghuraman. On January 24, during the NHAI review meeting in Manesar, union road transport and highways minister (MoRTH), Nitin Gadkari had told MCEPL to replace all radio frequency identification (RFID) readers at the Kherki-Daula toll plaza.
The RFID readers take 25 seconds for a FASTag to be scanned, but the reasons behind tags not being read is because NHAI had removed speed breakers in front of all plazas in January, MCEPL officials said. “With speed breakers gone, cars tend to stay bumper to bumper at the toll booth. FASTags are not read because the cars are packed so close to each other,” John said.