Centre extends deadline for mandatory FASTags to December 15
The Centre on Friday extended the deadline mandating the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) based FASTags for payment of toll across national highways to December 15.
The ministry of road transport and highways had announced in July that FASTags will become compulsory across national highways starting on December 1 to ease congestion at toll plazas and reduce traffic bottlenecks.
“To facilitate sufficient lead time to citizens to obtain FASTags, it has now been decided that all lanes in the fee plazas shall be declared as FASTag lane of the fee plaza by December 15, 2019,” the transport ministry said in a letter written to National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) Chairman, a copy of which has been reviewed by Hindustan Times.
“However, in order to facilitate and monitor the over dimensional and oversized vehicles, one lane in the fee plaza may be kept as hybrid lane accepting FASTags and other modes of payment as per rules which should be converted into the dedicated FASTag lane in a time bound manner,” it added.
FASTags are being provided free to motorists to encourage them to switch to electronic toll payment. For now, commuters will have to pay for the FASTags from December 1.
“However it has been found that many citizens have still not enabled their vehicles with FASTag due to various reasons. Accordingly to provide some more time to citizens to buy and put FASTag on their vehicles, it has now been decided that charging of double User Fee from vehicles which enter FASTag lane without FASTag will start from December 15 instead of December 1,” NHAI said.
The system, first introduced in 2016, lets toll booths wirelessly and automatically deduct the fee as the vehicles pass through so that they don’t have to stop to pay the money.
Across India’s 140,000 kilometres of national highways, toll is being collected on 24,996 kilometres. More than 6.6 million FASTags have been issued until November with an overall cumulative electronic collection of nearly Rs 12,850 crore.
According to NHAI, the issuance of FASTags has crossed 70 lakh with highest per day issuance of 1.35 lakh tags on November 26 while 1.03 lakh tag were issued on November 25.
The average daily issuance has grown 330 % from 8,000 in July to 35,000 Tags sold in November 19. “After announcement of waiver of Tag cost from 21st November, there has been a growth in FASTag issuance of over 130 %. FASTag is accepted on 560+ Toll Plazas and more number of plaza are getting added on a daily basis,” NHAI said in a statement.
Deepto Roy, Partner, Projects & Project Finance, SAMCo said there were concerns that most state highways are not RFID enabled which will introduce inefficiencies in the system.
The Centre has proposed to bear 50 percent of the costs of installing RFID toll infrastructure.
“Whether and how fast this will happen remains to be seen. Labour issues at toll plazas cannot be ruled out and the NHAI and toll operators need to approach the same in a pragmatic and constructive manner,” said Deepto Roy.