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(Source: The Financial Express)

How Modi government plans to stop misuse of “exempted category” status for free rides through toll plazas

In an attempt to cut down the number of VIP hangers-on and others who claim themselves to be in the “exempted category”, and enjoy a free ride through toll plazas, soon,

the government will restrict the benefit only to those vehicles which will have RFID smart tags, according to a TOI report.

The matter of a large number of people misusing the “exempted category” to enjoy free rides through toll plazas was highlighted during a recent infrastructure review meeting, which was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. After looking into the issue, the Prime Minister immediately gave the go-ahead in order to curb this menace, the report said. Earlier, the highway operators have also raised the issue of toll revenue loss with the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).

According to sources quoted in the report, the experiment will help the government assess how many trips don’t generate any revenue. As the “zero transaction tag” will be specified for exempted vehicles by the Central government, the benefits won’t percolate to those not in the official list. At present, only two “zero transaction tags” are provided to each MP only after getting their request letter for their vehicles, the report stated.

Meanwhile, in its bid to ensure seamless traffic movement, fast-track lanes are likely to be operationalised on all toll plazas on National Highways within a duration of six months. Recently, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said during the Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha that from December, all vehicles will come with ‘readymade fast tags’ to ensure smoother movement. Fast tag lanes have been made operational at 409 fee plazas out of 479 fee plazas in total on National Highways across the nation, Gadkari further informed.

Moreover, when a member suggested that no toll should be charged as such a step will be lauded by the people, the Union Minister stated that if services have to be availed, a price has to be paid. Gadkari also informed that the funds to build roads were collected from toll.

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