NHAI optimistic of ironing out FASTag issues in 15 days
Gurugram Officials of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) are optimistic that the 15-day extension for the implementation of FASTags will prove sufficient to ensure most commuters get the tags and traffic can be streamlined at the Kherki Daula toll plaza.
FASTag trials will continue at the toll plaza from Monday, with the highways authority considering making eight of the 25 lanes dedicated for FASTags, from December 2 to 14, to ensure that commuters adopt the electronic mode of payment at the toll plaza.
The ministry of road and transport and highways (MoRTH) on Friday issued an order, extending the deadline for implementation of FASTags from December 1 to 15. NHAI officials said that they will be better prepared to implement the FASTags from December 15. “Fifteen days means that more commuters will buy FASTags and there will be less chaos, whether it’s in terms of traffic or tag distribution,” a senior NHAI official said.
The number of point-of-sale counters for FASTags is set to increase, with the NHAI considering distributing tags in IMT Manesar and the deputy commissioner’s (DC) office over the next few days.
At present, commuters can get FASTags at the Sirhaul toll, in front of Ambience Mall, the IGI toll tax and Kherki Daula toll plaza. “The NHAI has asked us to dedicate eight lanes for FASTag from Monday, so as to see if there is any traffic congestion,” said Anish John, systems manager, Millennium City Expressway Private Limited (MCEPL), the concessionaire for the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway.
The MoRTH issued an order this July, stating that all toll plazas in the country will only accept toll through FASTags. The sale of FASTags started six months ago, but commuters were simply not buying the tags, an NHAI official said.
Ashok Sharma, project director, NHAI, Gurugram, said, “We have advertised the sale of FASTags well, through hoardings, pamphlets, FM radio, newspapers and social media. The initial cost for a FASTag has been waived off, which has encouraged commuters to buy the tags.”
NHAI officials said that sufficient counters have been opened for the purchase of FASTags.
Meanwhile, NHAI on Thursday wrote to MCEPL that the exemption for residents of 31 villages from paying the toll at Kherki Daula toll plaza will be undertaken by the concessionaire and not by the highways authority. “The NHAI has never given any directions for the issuance of free tag passes to the 31 villages and a decision on them shall be taken by the concessionaire,” said the letter, a copy of which is with HT.
MCEPL officials said that free tags were issued in 2015 after the villagers protested setting up of the toll plaza and demanded free access.
S Raghuraman, chief executive officer, MCEPL, said, “The tags were issued by us and we had given them free tags. All I want from the NHAI is an assurance that free tags will work with the newly calibrated hybrid machines.”
Villagers are still curious whether their free tags will work after December 15. Om Prakash, a resident of Shikhopur, said, “We want free access through the toll plaza and this should continue after the December 15 deadline. The toll officials have assured us that free tags will work and we won’t face any problem.”
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