The road transport and highways ministry have requested the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to terminate toll collections across India until 14 April during the 21-day lockdown period. However, this will not affect the maintenance of roads and the availability of emergency services at toll plazas. The lockdown has been announced to prevent the spread of coronavirus existing in the country.
"In view of COVID-19, it has been ordered to temporarily suspend the collection of toll at all NHAI toll plazas across India. This will not only reduce inconvenience to the supply of emergency services but also save critical time," Road and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari tweeted on Tuesday. The virus has been termed as 'Pandemic' by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The ministry has said, in case of contracts and agreements with private operators, the current situation may be treated as a force majeure inline with finance ministry's terms, according to a letter sent to the NHAI.
The decision of toll collection suspension has been undertaken with a view to reduce or avoid physical contact at toll booths. And also because at a time like this, emergency services need to have a quick path as we know how usually toll plazas are pack jammed. Though, ever since, Fastag, the online toll collection started ', the government claims to have reduced the waiting times by half.
According to NHAI reports, toll collections have dropped 50% across national highways between a period of March 15 and 22. Some state governments also took steps to suspend toll collections at all State Highways as well. However, police check-posts have been reports at toll sites to check movements of traffic.