Nilekani to head panel to choose best toll system

“I have requested Nandan Nilekani to head a committee as its chairman to decide on the best tolling technology, most appropriate for India,” Road Transport and Highways Minister Kamal Nath said.

The country has embarked on a major drive to build highways, including toll roads, under the public-private-partnership mode. Nath said institutions in the West, including Japan’s Nomura, have shown interest in investing in India.

He said talks were also on with the Malaysian government for roping in construction companies for the road sector.Sources said an MoU could be signed between the NHAI and a Malaysia consortium of road firms.

India has over 70,000 km of highways and proposes to significantly enhance the network by constructing 20 km of roads every day in the next five years. Currently, the NHAI has been able to put under toll about 10,000 km of highways.

About the tolling system, Nath said “it should be user-friendly which will be common for all of India. We cannot have different technologies in different states,” he said.
Nath, who visited Japan recently, had also discussed the issue with investors and officials there as the country is known for one of the best tolling technologies in the world.

“Whether Japanese (tolling system) or not (will be implemented) they will decide...Nandan knows it best,” Nath said when asked whether Road Ministry would adopt a Japanese technology, including electronic system under which the cars are fitted with a device ensuring automatic toll payment.

Earlier, the ministry had unveiled an ambitious plan to undertake a pilot study for installing high-tech automatic toll collection systems on the highways but the same scheduled for October last year could not take off and has been deferred by six months.
The delays in pilot-testing on three road stretches — Panipat-Jalandhar, Surat-Dahisar and Gurgaon-Kathputliwere were attributed to developers’ lack of expertise in toll collection system and reluctance to import costly equipment. The three pilot projects will adopt different technologies — microwaves, infra red and radio frequency — out of which the most adaptable for a nationwide roll-out will be selected by the committee.

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