FASTag deadline extended till December 15
The Union government announced on Friday that the December 1 deadline for all toll collection centres of its highways to switch to a cashless “FASTag” system will be pushed back by a fortnight, a decision meant to ease a transition that officials predict will come with significant teething troubles.
A FASTag, a radio frequency identification (RFID) device, will be required by all vehicles passing through the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI)-run highways from December 15. Commuters will for now have the option to pay cash, but that will be done through only one lane and the charges will be double.
“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 to NHAI chairman. HT has seen a copy of the letter. NHAI FASTags will continue to be provided free of cost till December 15, 2019, the government added.
“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 15th of December 2019 instead of 1st of December 2019,” the NHAI said in a statement.
Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari in an interview to HT on Thursday said there were significant issues that needed to be resolved and, according to government estimates. “Today (Thursday), we cleared 1.5 lakh tags and there is a rush for it everywhere... 50% of vehicles remain,” he said, adding that there was a shortage of tags and the complaint centres were jammed with calls. “There are problems because this is the first time we are taking this decision,” he said.
More than 6.6 million FASTags have been issued until November with an overall cumulative electronic collection of nearly Rs 12,850 crore.
“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 daily basis,” NHAI said.
“Concerns remain that most state highways will still not be RFID-enabled, which will introduce inefficiencies in the system. The Centre has proposed to bear 50% of the costs of installing RFID toll infrastructure. Whether and how fast this will happen remains to be seen,” said Deepto Roy, partner, Projects & Project Finance, SAMCo.