India is on the brink of a transformative shift in toll collection practices, spearheaded by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH). This initiative, aimed at revolutionising the toll fee collection system, particularly for heavy vehicles, seeks to address persisting issues in accuracy despite the introduction of the FASTAG system.
In response to the need for innovation, MoRTH contemplates a paradigm shift by considering the imposition of toll charges based on the weight of vehicles. The focal point of this change is to combat the prevalent issue of overloading, which has been a longstanding concern on India’s highways.
A weight-centric toll collection mechanism is being advocated by the Parliamentary Standing Committee, led by Rajya Sabha Member Vijayasai Reddy. The proposed pay-as-you-weigh model aims to ensure heavy vehicles adhere to prescribed weight limits, discouraging overloading practices. To facilitate this, comprehensive research is underway for the installation of weighing platforms near toll stations, marking a pivotal moment in toll administration.
While this prospective policy is primarily directed at heavy vehicles, it has stirred discontent among certain owners’ associations. Concerns revolve around potential delays at toll stations and the consequent risk of escalating traffic bottlenecks, reminiscent of challenges experienced post-FASTOC enactment.
As deliberations continue, the ministry is formulating a tailored strategy to address these concerns and circumvent the overloading dilemma. Toll charges for heavy vehicles, traditionally determined by the number of axles, are poised for a transformation. The prevailing one-size-fits-all approach is set to give way to a more equitable and usage-based tolling system.
Calls for the revival of long-dormant weighing scales underline the commitment to monitor and enforce compliance with the newly proposed standards. This approach aligns with the National Highway Toll Rules of 2008, prohibiting overloaded vehicles from accessing national highways or toll crossings. Rigorous adherence to these rules is anticipated, signalling stringent repercussions for vehicles surpassing government-mandated weight limits.
Beyond regulatory compliance, the issue of overloaded vehicles extends to road safety. The prevalence of accidents involving heavily burdened vehicles poses a significant threat not only to the vehicles themselves but also to fellow road users. As India aims to enhance road safety, the envisioned policy of toll fees based on vehicle weight emerges as a milestone in traffic management.
This strategic move is not only poised to alleviate strain on infrastructure but also signifies a commitment to safer, more secure roadways. As the nation navigates this shift in toll collection practices, it is a testament to India’s dedication to fostering a road network that prioritises safety and efficiency for all.