In the backdrop of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) introducing FASTags at toll plazas and some incidents being reported of the services personnel being asked to pay toll, the three services have decided to issue a common toll tax exemption identity card to their rank and file.
“The idea was suggested as in some cases the toll officials ask for a photocopy of the Service ID which is against security rules and regulations,” a defence source said. This was agreed to at a meeting last October under the Chairman, Principal Personnel Officers Committee (PPOC) and a model ID card is being finalised based on it. Services are exempted from paying toll charges under the Toll Act.
If the toll staff ask for a scan of the ID, the personnel show the service ID but present another ID for scanning, officials said.
In addition, a recent NHAI circular which is in contravention to the exemption has created disgruntlement among the military fraternity.
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The NHAI clarification dated December 16, 2019 says exemption under the Indian Toll (Army and Air Force) Act, 1901 “is available to the persons who are ‘on duty’ and does not pertain to retired personnel” and “no exemption is available on use of personal vehicle if it is not used for discharging official duty…”
However, Army officials said the exemption is as per an Act of Parliament and the NHAI circular violates that.
“The Army has proposed that residential address shouldn’t be included in the proposed card as data capturing could take place,” a defence official said. It was also suggested that only the unit name could be mentioned.