Soon, you may have to pay for driving in peak-hour traffic

Moushumi Das Gupta

Mumbai, Jan. 23 -- Vehicle owners may need to shell out 'congestion charges' to drive during peak hours, if a proposal by the urban development (UD) ministry is accepted by state governments.

Modelled on similar rules in London and Singapore, the ministry is considering introducing these charges in a bid to de-congest some of the busiest central business areas across cities,

In London for instance, a congestion charge is imposed in a 20-square km area around the city centre using automatic number plate-recognition cameras at 348 entry sites. Vehicle owners entering the charging zone can either pay online through mobile phones or at specific stores.

Sudhir Krishna, UD secretary had written to all the state chief secretaries to "consider adapting congestion charging system as a measure to decongest central business districts" as well as to "control pollution."

The ministry has asked states to identify the most congested areas in their cities and get a study done on various aspects of the congestion charges as per the requirement.

The technical aspects, such as the amount to be charged and where to charge it, have to be worked out by the state governments as transport is a state subject. "To start with, we may have the manual permit/coupon system as was done in Singapore when it was first introduced," Krishsna's January 15 letter to chief secretaries.

But the ministry feels that the "most desirable and effective way" would be online payment /SMS/ prepaid payment based on vehicle identification through cameras or boxes installed in cars.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.