FASTag: Response from private vehicle owners poor, say officials at Karnal toll plaza
On the 24-lane National Highway 44 in Karnal, which connects Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh to New Delhi, temporary booths have come up near the toll plaza selling Radio-Frequency Identification stickers — FASTags — which have been made mandatory for all vehicles crossing toll booths on national highways starting December 15.
The Centre pushed the initial deadline to make vehicles FASTag-enabled from December 1, but since then, say employees at these Point of Sale counters, sales have come down.
“The response from owners of private vehicles is very poor. Even though the deadline was extended, only 37% vehicles crossing this plaza are FASTag-enabled,” said Manish Kumar, manager of SOMA-Roadies Toll Plaza in Karnal.
On December 12, nearly 60% of the vehicles that used the toll plaza did not have FASTags, he said.
“As per government directions, out of 12 lanes on one side, only one lane will be reserved for vehicles without FASTags, but we feel it will be impossible for us to ensure movement of 60% of the vehicles through one lane after December 15,” he added.
However, they have their eye on the big picture: FASTags will reduce the time of toll collection from 30 seconds to three. It will also help avoid scuffles with toll officials and security guards. FASTag will also bring transparency in toll collection and help the government monitor collection. In a toll plaza as large as Karnal’s, more than 40,000 vehicles cross every day and daily collection comes to around Rs 40 lakh.
The drivers, on the other hand, have a mixed response. “Every day we spend one to two hours in queues at toll plazas, but FASTags will save our time and cut fuel expenses,” says Ganesh Singh, owner of a truck from Rohtak.
Prince Kumar of Delhi said the government made the decision without doing its homework.
“Most of the people in our country do not keep money in their bank accounts, so how they will maintain minimum balance in FASTag wallets? This decision has created problems for people instead of providing relief,” he said. The government should have ensured that FASTags are sent to people at their doorsteps instead of them standing in queues, he said.
Gurdip Singh of Ludhiana faced a technical snag. “At Murthal toll plaza on NH 44, the scanner malfunctioned, due to which my vehicle was stopped.”
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