Around 800 eligible government vehicles have been given toll exemption directly on the FASTag system itself, said Kamlakar Phand, chief general manager (tolls), Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC). The numbers may increase further.
A meeting was held at the office of the state chief secretary regarding how the toll exemption provision can be implemented. MSRDC is slowly converting all toll plazas under its jurisdiction into FASTag lanes, except for one/two lanes that are reserved for hybrid payments -cash and non-FASTag users- especially for vehicles coming from outside the state. It has asked all such government offices to provide data on the vehicles that can avail the benefit of toll exemption as per the notification.
Phand explained that it was necessary. For instance, the Bandra Worli Sealink has been converted into complete FASTag lanes. It has only one hybrid lane. If the toll exempted vehicles use this lane, a long queue will be seen. To avoid queues and provide seamless traffic movement at every toll plaza, MSRDC has asked departments, like post office and court and other essential service offices like fire brigade and ambulances to provide the data of such vehicles to be exempted from toll.
Meanwhile, Phand asserted, "Now it is not possible to cross the toll Plaza by showing some identity card or putting stickers on vehicles like press, police or government officers. Also, there is no point in talking to the people working at toll plazas, because if one is eligible for toll exemption, they can apply and get the exemption done digitally. Otherwise, charges will be deducted from their linked account with FASTag. This will also eliminate the verbal spat at toll plazas, which have been reported in the past."
In Maharashtra, MSRDC controls 40 toll plazas and the remaining are with the Public Works Department (PWD). Toll exemption will be applicable only for MSRDC-controlled plazas.