Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari announced on Wednesday a significant shift in toll collection methodology. The Centre is set to replace the current toll collection system with a satellite-based approach. Gadkari clarified that this new system will directly deduct toll charges from commuters’ bank accounts based on the distance traveled.

According to Gadkari, this initiative aims to streamline toll collection processes, thereby saving commuters’ time and reducing fuel consumption. He exemplified the impact by citing the drastic reduction in travel time from Mumbai to Pune, now shortened to a mere 2-hour journey compared to the previous 9-hour ordeal, resulting in substantial diesel savings. Gadkari assured that despite this convenience, commuters would bear the associated costs, facilitated through public-private investment.

Efforts to enhance efficiency and diminish wait times at toll plazas have garnered attention from international organizations like the World Bank. The implementation of FASTag has notably slashed average wait times at toll plazas to a remarkable 47 seconds, marking a considerable improvement from the former average of 714 seconds.

Reaffirming his commitment to elevate India’s road infrastructure to par with the USA by the end of 2024, Gadkari expressed confidence in the nation’s transformation. He expressed determination to achieve this ambitious goal, asserting that India’s destiny will undergo a significant change by year-end.

Additionally, Gadkari provided insights into the Bharatmala-2 project, which encompasses approximately 8,500 km, supplementing the previously completed Bharatmala-1, which spanned 34,000 km. Emphasizing the significance of projects like Bharatmala Pariyojana, aimed at developing around 26,000 km of economic corridors, Gadkari underscored their pivotal role alongside initiatives like the Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) and North-South and East-West (NS-EW) corridors in managing freight traffic on roads.

Moreover, there has been a notable 10% surge in construction and expansion activities on National Highways from April to November compared to the corresponding period between 2011 and 2023. However, this fiscal year has witnessed a 52% decline in the allocation of new construction projects.