New Delhi: India will soon see a uniform electronic toll collection system on its national highways, increasing the revenue, curbing leakages and ensuring smooth travel across the country.
The system, which will use passive RFID (radio frequency identification) technology, is likely to be in place by May 2012.
"Passive RFID will ensure that a person can travel from Kashmir to Kanyakumari without stopping anywhere. The revenue leakages at present is at least 15 percent of the toll collection, which comes to about Rs.300 crore," said Road and Transport Minister Kamal Nath.
RFID technology is a tracking system and has widespread applications across several industries like retail and logistics.
The government had constituted a committee headed by former Infosys chief executive and Unique Identification Authority Chairman Nandan Nilekani for this purpose.
"The challenge was to have a technology which was modern, user friendly and has international standards," said Nath.
The RFID tag, will be stuck on the windscreen and cost about Rs.100, while the toll booth will have a tag reader, which is expected to cost about Rs.2 lakh.
A vehicle owner can "recharge" the account for the vehicle (the account number will be the RFID tag number), and when the vehicle passes through the lane of any toll plaza across the country, the appropriate toll will be debited from the account.
India has about 71,000 km of national highways, but toll is collected on only 8,500 km. The government plans to increase this to at least 30,000 km in the next five years.
"We should be able to collect toll 30,000 km of national highways in five years," said the minister.
Talking about the multiple ulity of the system, Nilekani said it will also act as a platform for vehicle identification and prove effective in tracking stolen vehicles.
Currently the technology is used in USA, Mexico, Chile, Argentina and Dubai.