Come May 2012 and your drive on the national highway will become seamless. But what’s more interesting is that the RFID (radio frequency identification) tag will ensure seamless travel for just Rs. 100!
Contrast this to the tags attached to cars that use the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway which costs around Rs. 1500 and the intent of the government is clear in ensuring that the masses use it.
The government has accepted the report of a committee on electronic toll collection, headed by UIDAI Chairman Nandan Nilekani, recommending using the RFID technology for the system. Radio frequency transmits the identity (in the form of a unique serial number) of an object or person wirelessly, using radio waves.
"We wanted it to be cost effective and not use too much technology," said Nandan Nilekani, chairman of UIDAI.
The tag will be accepted across the country. The government will also ask auto makers to install tags while making the vehicles. Tags are expected to help plug revenue leakages as the government currently incurs losses of over Rs. 1500 crore due to inefficient toll collection methods.
Tags will become necessary as over 30,000 km of roads will become toll roads in the next 5 years.
“This will help in seamless movement, increase transparency and plug leakages in revenue,” said minister of road transport and highways Kamal Nath.
"The revenue leakage at present is 15 per cent of the toll collection, which comes to about Rs. 300 crore," he said. Last year, the toll collection stood at about Rs. 2,000 crore. Of the 71,000 km of National Highways in the country, only 8,500 km is under toll and the government is planning to increase it to 30,000 km in the next five years. "We should be able to toll 30,000 km of National Highways in five years," Nath has said.
Nath said the government will hold talks with the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) to have inbuilt chips in vehicles. "We will consult SIAM to have this chip on every vehicle produced."
As per the current SIAM data, over 1.2 crore vehicles were produced in the country on March 31, 2010. Based on this estimate, the tags for ETC would cost about Rs. 120 crore.
Nilekani said that the chip, which would be installed on the windscreens of the vehicles is rechargeable. Nilekani is also the Chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which aims to develop and implement the necessary institutional, technical and legal infrastructure to issue unique identity numbers to Indian residents.
The tag will not just ensure an uninterrupted trip on the toll roads but also help track your stolen car as your tag will have a unique ID number of your vehicle that will make tracking easier.
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