The rate at which the global pandemic, Coronavirus, is spreading across the country has been dumbfounding. Consequently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has instructed a strict lockdown of the entire nation for 21 days. During this period, an announcement said that the toll fees are exempt for all.
Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road, Transport, Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises stated that the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) would stop collecting toll fees from users during this period.
Though it sounds like a relief, it isn’t of much use because no public or private vehicle is allowed to get onto roads during the lockdown. This lockdown period requires everyone to stay at home other than the police, firefighters, safety officers, and medical practitioners.
The exemption has been implemented so that the vehicles need not stop at the toll booth and to encourage the fast movement of emergency services or law and order vehicles. Emergency services need to have a quick passage during these times of pandemic. It can also be attributed to minimising the physical contact at toll booths.
Usually, the clogged scenes of toll plazas are reduced to half after the introduction of online toll collection via FASTag. Every national toll plaza has converted all lanes except one for FASTag-enabled vehicles. The non-FASTag lane has the usual traffic since they have to pay the toll in cash; this increases the wait time at the lane.
Though matters related to toll revenue has not been discussed yet, the government may have to bear the losses to the private toll operators. Financial losses to businesses and individuals come as a side effect of the lockdown. Ways to deal with this situation are to be ascertained by the government.
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