Mandatory FASTag rule leads to chaos, fear officials

Mandatory FASTag rule leads to chaos, fear officials

All the entry and exit lanes at the toll plazas have been converted into hybrid lanes by installing the equipment needed to read FASTag. But, a majority of vehicle owners are yet to instal the necessary device on their vehicles. dh file photo

The Centre’s decision to make digital payment through FASTag mandatory at highway toll plazas from December 1 has led to confusion among the officials on the ground as well as toll collectors, who worry that the rule may lead to law and order problems.

FASTag, a radio frequency identity sticker, enables toll fee payments through a digital wallet. Last week, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways notified the decision to declare all lanes at toll plazas into ‘FASTag lane of Fee Plaza’ from December 1. It also invoked a rule, hitherto not implemented, to collect double the fee from cars which enter such lanes without FASTag.

The notification came after officials of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) FASTag lanes were not seeing any increase in the digital payment over the last two years. It sought “strict implementation” of penalty (“double fee”) and resolve issues that may lead to law and order problems at the plazas.

Last week, the ministry said 457 toll plazas were equipped with FASTag and the remaining 87 will have the facility in the next few months.

Sources in state unit of NHAI said making FASTag mandatory was impossible considering that people were yet to embrace the digital payment option.

“Our monthly records show that only 17% to 20% of the toll fee is collected through FASTag. Imposing the rule will only lead to chaos at the plazas where people already have problems with digital payments,” the source said.

A NHAI official said there were many reasons why people have not yet switched over to FASTag payment.

“On the Airport road toll, for example, more than 60% of the vehicles are taxis and they do not want FASTag. Cab drivers say their passengers insist on toll fee receipt while making payment,” he said.

Another official said that many persons do not recharge the digital wallet. “About 60,000 vehicles pass through Nelamangala toll every day and less than 15,000 of them make payment through the FASTag.

Thousands of vehicles will have FASTag sticker but pay the fee through cash as they have stopped utilising the digital wallet,” he said.