Soon, your car will get an ‘Aadhaar’ card

| Updated on: Sep 01, 2017
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RFID tags for vehicles promise gains for users as well as road authorities

Fastags, which are basically RFID tags for vehicles that allow uninterrupted passage through toll plazas on online payment of toll charges, are likely to emerge as Aadhar-like unique identity numbers for vehicles in the country.

Senior officials of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) have already started referring to these tags as ‘vehicle Aadhar’ in their meetings. Besides enabling trucks and vehicles to zoom through toll plazas, these tags allow users to get discounted toll charges and probably even discounted fuel.

These also enable the government to track vehicles, at least on the national highways (NH).

To start with, the tags just stored vehicle data such as registration number and class of vehicle, which help determine the exact charges at each toll booth it crosses.

Recently, NHAI has also started putting encrypted vehicle related data like engine and chassis number in these tags. Moreover, the tags have the capacity to store more data such as pollution under control, insurance and even GSTIN number.

Numerous benefits

With the storage of pollution and insurance data, agencies wanting to check vehicles violating these norms can do so by installing tag readers within cities, particularly in the planned smartcities, Akhilesh Kumar Srivastava, CGM-IT, NHAI, told BusinessLine .

In the backdrop of the recent Supreme Court order on privacy, NHAI is ensuring that it protects the data by sharing the “bare minimum information” with agencies to activate the tags, said Srivastava.

As of now six lakh such tags have been fixed on vehicles. Of the ₹50-crore toll charges collected every day, NHAI now collects about ₹8 crore, or 17.4 per cent, through Fastags. Last year’s demonetisation move gave the tag a bigger push.

Almost all the NH toll plazas are being enabled with RFID readers. This will help prevent revenue losses at toll plazas by cutting down the possibility of reflecting a lower revenue receipt than the actual fee. The system is also expected to improve the safety of toll plaza handlers.

At least one lane of about 371 NH toll plazas have become RFID reader enabled. All lanes are expected to be electronically enabled by October, helping the government track all vehicles across the NH network.

These 371 RFID enabled plazas are spread over 50,000 km of the NH network, constituting roughly 48 per cent of the full stretch of India’s highways. This is managed by NHAI.

Another 48-odd toll booths spread over 50,000 km of NH is managed by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. For this part of the network, Indian Highways Management Co Ltd (IHMCL), a company which is implementing the electronic toll system for the national highways, and in which NHAI has a stake, has recently got the mandate to make electronic toll plazas. “This should be done in six-eight months,” said Srivastava.

To ensure faster and wider adoption of the tags, NHAI recently launched two apps — one which enables users to buy tags from issuing banks and websites of NHAI and IHMCL; and another vehicle dealers, IOC, etc. Those selling and activating tags include banks such as SBI, ICICI, Axis, IDBI and small finance bank Equitas, as well as PayTM.

“About 50,000 end-users have downloaded the app in the last 12 days,” said Srivastava. NHAI has also roped in the Common Service Centres that distribute Aadhar numbers to people to sell the Fastags.

Published on January 10, 2018

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