Private toll plazas, tough to move

India State

Private toll plazas in the country continue to collect tolls in cash as they are not covered under the 10-second rule of the National Highway Authority of India. 

Lucknow: The Yamuna Expressway (earlier known as Taj Expressway), which connects Agra and Greater Noida, does not accept Fastag.  In a stretch of 165 kilometers, the highway has three toll plazas where the traveller needs to stop and pay his toll tax. 

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in a press release on May 26, 2021 stated that, “In order to ensure smooth and quick passage of vehicles at the toll plazas, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has issued guidelines to ensure service time of not more than 10 seconds per vehicle even during peak hours at the toll plazas on the National Highways.”

This order was passed to ensure the seamless flow of traffic at the toll plazas. Any vehicle that queues up for more than 10 seconds under a 100 metre range of the toll plaza will be allowed to pass without paying a toll.

A picture of Jewar toll plaza on the Yamuna Expressway on this Holi

The NHAI made Fastag mandatory on every vehicle and toll booth. Yet, the Yamuna Highway toll plazas have failed to adopt Fastag. The passengers have to stop at the plaza and pay the toll in cash making the 10-second rule redundant here. 

According to Rajendra Bhati, Project Manager of the Yamuna Expressway,  the Jaypee group, who partly runs the expressway, needs to clear some payments with the government to get a clearance for Fastag scanners on the plazas.

K.K. Singh, the General Manager of the project said that they will install Fastag scanners within a month, on two lanes of the six-lane highway. “A pact has been signed among IDBI bank, Yamuna authority, and Jaypee group for the implementation. But, Fastag is monitored by the NHAI, hence we need to get our Fastag plan approved by it. We assume that we will successfully be able to implement it by the end of June,” he added.

During the festive season, when residents in the National Capital Region (NCR) try to return to their hometowns, the toll plazas on the highway witness major traffic jams. People have tweeted about incidents when they had to be stuck in the traffic for more than three hours because the pace of movement slows down with cash transactions.

Group Commander, Deepak Kumar from the Indian Air Force said, “Even after being exempted from the toll tax as an air force officer, this Holi I remained stuck in traffic for about two hours at the Jewar toll plaza. It took nearly 12 hours for me to reach home this time from Delhi to Lucknow, which on normal days takes merely seven hours. The drive on this route never felt this exhausting before.

“I was going to see my mother who was seriously ill and had to be taken to the hospital. Because of the traffic, I had to connect with another relative and had to ask him to take my mother to the doctor,” he added.

This year in February, the ministry said that it is mandatory for all the vehicles to have Fastag, else they would be charged double. Despite such orders, the Yamuna highway along with many others have themselves failed to implement the digital system, which gives the passengers a hard time while traveling.