Tribune News Service
Gurugram, January 18
In the line of fire for the past few months over the implementation of FASTag, the Kherki Daula toll authorities are now facing the wrath of commuters.
With over 200 scuffles being reported between commuters and toll staff since January 15 and over 200 per cent increase in instances of levying double toll penalty on erring motorists, local residents have united to seek a rollback of FASTag or removal of Kherki Daula toll plaza altogether.
“The toll authorities are unaware of the notification that mandates 25 per cent of the lanes accepting cash. The toll collectors insist all lanes except the last one are for FASTag and force people to pay double toll. Women staff refuse to listen and we have to relent,” says Parveen Malik, a local resident who posted a video online highlighting the menace.
The Manesar police claim they have been receiving numerous calls complaining of arguments and scuffles at the toll plaza every hour and have stationed extra policemen at the plaza.
Toll officials, however, claim the figures are way higher. “At least 5,000 people argue, threaten and record our videos daily. We have not made the law, government has. We have posted staff to direct motorists without FASTag to cash lanes but nobody listens. We have directed staff to keep windows shut to avoid attacks and not indulge in argument,” says a senior official of Millennium City Expressway Private Limited (MCEPL).
Most of the commuters blame it on toll authorities’ lack of preparedness for implementation of FASTag. “Toll collectors are clueless when FASTag doesn’t work or there is some technical issue. Most of them are not willing to listen,” says Ragnika Chowdhary who has started a #withdrawFASTag campaign.
According to authorities, the number of commuters who paid double the toll amount as a penalty was 659 on January 1, which shot up to 3,976 on January 16. Before January 8, there were 19 FASTag lanes and six cash lanes; after January 8, the NHAI has implemented 21 FASTag lanes and four cash lanes at the Kherki Daula toll plaza.
The NHAI has instructed toll plaza officials that if there is a traffic jam beyond 20 minutes, one more cash lane on both sides must be added to supplement the others.
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