The Road Tax collection via FASTag lanes on both National, as well as state highways skyrocketed in the December of 2021. According to the government report, the toll collection through FASTag lanes was approximate Rs.3679 crore, toning down to Rs.119 crore per day in December 2021. As compared to the collection made in December 2020 when FASTag was active on 780 toll plazas across the nation, the toll collection from National Highway FASTag and State roads FASTag saw an increase of Rs.1375 crore compared to the collected toll of Rs.2304 crore in December 2020 as stated by The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). The NPCI also reported that there was an increase of Rs.502 crore in toll collection in December as compared to the road tax collection in November of the same year. But perhaps, we can attribute this increase in the collection to many reasons.
FASTag was initiated in India back in 2016, starting from mere 247 toll plazas to more than 720 plazas as of 2021. The government of India made it mandatory for 4-wheelers to have FASTags starting from 15 February 2021. The purpose of FASTag was to quicken and smoothen the road tax deduction process, saving drivers’ time and also as a step towards advancing the nation in terms of technology as the FASTags have a barcode on them that contains the vehicle Id and FASTag number which gets scanned by the FASTag scanners at the toll gates. Since the pandemic hit the nation at the beginning of 2020, it was only in the latter half of 2021 that people started stepping out of their houses freely, so there was an upsurge in the economic activities of the country. December is that month of the year when people rush off to the snow-peaked hills of Himachal Pradesh and return to their hometowns to welcome the new year with hope and their loved ones. While there was no blockage of the roads due to the Farmers’ protest in the latter half of 2021, When the farmers’ protest ended on 11th December 2021, the toll plazas were reactivated as well, therefore with the people indulging in the festive feel of the season plus the reactivation of national highway toll plazas in Haryana and Punjab can be considered to have hyped the toll collection specifically in December 2021. It’s evident by the snow-rush that Himachal experiences at the year-end every year. In the words of Road Transfer and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, “Our (state-owned NHAI’s) current toll income is Rs.40 thousand crores. It will rise to Rs.1.40 lakh crores in the next three years.” Mr Nitin Gadkari has often pointed out that good roads can become a major factor in improving the economy of the nation. Therefore the need to invest in the country’s public infrastructure via FASTag.
However, this Radio Frequency Identification Technology doesn’t operate well enough as people would expect it to. Long car queues and jams have to be borne at the toll gates, especially during the festive seasons around the year and long weekends. But the NHAI (which controls most of the toll plazas across India), along with the government of India, is striving to do better. Mr. Nitin Gadkari claims in front of the public audience that the 2022 India will be “toll booth free” as there will be GPS toll collections i.e. wherever a vehicle will go, based on the vehicle’s movement, the toll will be deducted from the vehicle owner’s bank account. This new Global Positioning System ought to reduce the time consumption that happens from the long queues at the toll booths and also avoid other toll problems like a wrongful tax deduction, etc. As the citizens of India, we await this change that has been promised and expected to come to India in the year 2022.