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New toll collection system UPSC NOTE

 How will the recently proposed highway tolling system work?

  • The global navigation satellite system is a term used to refer to any satellite-based navigation system, including the United States’ Global Positioning System (GPS). 

  • It uses a large constellation of satellites to provide more accurate location and navigation information to users globally as compared to the GPS alone.

  • An official of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways explained that its implementation will involve an On-Board Unit (OBU), or a tracking device.

  • Fitted inside a vehicle whose location can be mapped using GAGAN, the Indian satellite navigation system with an approximate accuracy of 10 metres. 

  • The co-ordinates of the entire length of the country’s national highways will have to be logged with the help of digital image processing.

  • Software will be used to assign the toll rate on a particular highway, calculate the toll amount for a vehicle as per the distance travelled by it and then deduct it from a wallet linked to the OBU.

  • The system will additionally have gantries, or arches mounted with CCTV cameras, at various points on a highway for enforcement purposes. 

  • These will capture an image of the vehicle’s high security registration plate and cross verify if a road user is trying to trick the system by either removing the tracking device or travelling without an OBU onboard.

  • The Ministry official further explained that the aim of the technology is to provide users the benefit of paying toll only for the actual distance travelled on a highway, or pay-as-you-use

  • The government also hopes that it will eventually allow barrier-free movement.

Will it be based on the U.S.’s Global Positioning System?

  • In response to a question on how the government plans to safeguard privacy of vehicle users, the Ministry official said that firstly, it had decided to use the GAGAN satellite system and not GPS.

  • This is to ensure data security within the country

  • The official added that although the concept was still a work in progress, the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023 passed in Parliament last year will address privacy concerns. 

  • The law had received flak from civil society for the widening of exemptions granted to government agencies that may facilitate increased state surveillance.

Will it be mandatory for all vehicles to fit an on-board  unit device?

  • One of the major challenges posed by this technology is that of recovering the toll amount if a road user fails to clear his payment after completing a journey on a highway.

  • If the digital wallet linked with the OBU is empty.

  • Because there are no barriers involved that can stop a non-compliant vehicle.

  • There are other issues such as when a vehicle travels on a highway without an OBU device linked or the OBU device is deliberately switched off to avoid payment or if a car’s OBU is installed on a truck to pay less toll. 

  • Gantry-mounted Automatic Number-Plate Recognition (ANPR)-based systems for capturing violations have to be set up on highways across India. 

  • However, no such infrastructure exists in the country today.

  • Further, the success of an ANPR system depends on the quality of the licence plates, which are currently limited to a few cities and States. 

  • The government will also have to amend the National Highways Fee (Determination of Rates and Collection) Rules in order to provide for the recovery of unpaid toll, define offences as well as require the necessity of an OBU in vehicles.

What about the FASTags collection system?

  • The new tolling system will co-exist with the FASTag-based toll collection as the government has not yet taken a decision on whether OBUs will be made mandatory for all vehicles or only for new vehicles

  • Minister Gadkari has been speaking about implementing satellite-based toll collection since 2020.

  • Even though radio frequency identification based FASTags for toll collection was rolled out from 2016 and made mandatory only from February 16, 2021. 

  • Over the years a robust compliance has been achieved. 

  • By December 2023, 98.9% of vehicles passing through toll fee plazas at national highways were FASTag compliant. 

  • Toll collection increased 1.5 times from ₹17,942 crore in 2016-2017 to ₹27,744 crore in 2020-2021 at National Highway fee plazas due to a multitude of factors.

  • Which included rising number of vehicles as well as revision in tolls and adoption of FASTags.

  • However, officials say that the global navigation satellite system involves lower operational cost as compared to FASTags due to absence of toll plazas and less number of entities in the toll collection process. 

  • The new tolling system will co-exist with the FASTag-based toll collection as the government has not yet taken a decision on whether OBUs will be made mandatory for all vehicles or only for new vehicles

  • Minister Gadkari has been speaking about implementing satellite-based toll collection since 2020.

  • Even though radio frequency identification based FASTags for toll collection was rolled out from 2016 and made mandatory only from February 16, 2021. 

  • Over the years a robust compliance has been achieved. 

  • By December 2023, 98.9% of vehicles passing through toll fee plazas at national highways were FASTag compliant. 

  • Toll collection increased 1.5 times from ₹17,942 crore in 2016-2017 to ₹27,744 crore in 2020-2021 at National Highway fee plazas due to a multitude of factors. 

  • Which included rising number of vehicles as well as revision in tolls and adoption of FASTags.

  • However, officials say that the global navigation satellite system involves lower operational cost as compared to FASTags due to absence of toll plazas and less number of entities in the toll collection process.

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: New toll collection system UPSC NOTE
New toll collection system UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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