Coronavirus Pandemic: Toll collection on national highways suspended temporarily to ease emergency services

Coronavirus Pandemic: Toll collection on national highways suspended temporarily to ease emergency services

In view of the coronavirus outbreak, the Central Government announced on Wednesday that they have temporarily suspended toll collection on national highways. The move is expected to ease the transportation of emergency services.

“In view of COVID-19, it has been ordered to temporarily suspend the collection of toll at all toll plazas across India,” Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari announced.

He added that it will not only reduce inconvenience to emergency services but also help save crucial time. The minister, however, stated that the maintenance of roads and availability of emergency resources at toll plazas will continue as usual.

The road and highways ministry had earlier advised the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to compel with the home ministry’s guidelines in regard to toll plaza operations amid the lockdown in the country.

The road transport and highways stated that the prevailing condition may be treated as “Force Majeure” of concession or contract agreement in terms of the finance ministry.

Earlier, the NHAI had rolled out the electronic toll collection programme, FASTag across India in December. The NHAI had introduced on its over 500 toll plazas and levied double toll charges from the vehicles entering FASTag lanes without the tag.

The authority was able to issue about two crore FASTags through multiple Point of Sale (PoS) locations. The FASTag transaction last month had crossed four million per day.

Meanwhile, the state government has also been taking the necessary steps to ensure that the employees working in essential services do not face any hassles. The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) has allowed free transport for the employees working in essential services.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has provided ₹2 crores to ST Corporation to compensate for the losses incurred by offering free transport for those engaged in providing essential service.

The employees can avail the services by displaying their identity card. The service is expected to benefit employees living in areas outside Mumbai, i.e. Virar, Nalasopara, Kalyan, Vashi, Panvel.

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