FASTag: 10 days on, it is not smooth traffic at toll plazas near Pune
Though the Centre made it mandatory for all four-wheelers to have a FASTag, many still appear unaware about it while those who have already made use of a FASTag have complained about discrepancies in withdrawal of money more than once at toll plazas.
The Union minister for road transport Nitin Gadkari has made FASTag mandatory for all vehicles travelling through toll plazas on highways. However, a number of complaints have surfaced, ranging from additional money being charged, difficulties in scanning of FASTag and delay in receiving FASTags to long queues.
At Somatane phata toll plaza on old Pune-Mumbai highway, Vivek Mohit, a passenger, had to wait for several minutes before finally moving ahead as the FASTag scanning gun wasn’t operating properly on Wednesday. “They (toll plaza staff) tried to scan the code on FASTag of my car, but it wasn’t working properly. Eventually I had to pay cash. A similar thing happened with other cars too, leading to a delay,” he said. Mohit was heading towards Mumbai with his family.
The government introduced FASTag, a device that employs Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, for making toll payments directly while the vehicle is in motion, on December 15. FASTag (RFID tag) is affixed on the windscreen of the vehicle and enables a customer to make toll payments directly from the account which is linked to FASTag. While 75 per cent of all lanes have been reserved for vehicles with FASTags, the rest are without the tag.
However, the initial problems being faced by travellers seems to suggest that FASTag is not operating smoothly. Said another commuter Raju Garude, “The service is not good and many have to shell out cash.”
At Urse toll plaza on Tuesday, a traveller, Ashish Bartakke, complained that he was initially told there is insufficient balance in his FASTag-linked account and was asked to pay cash. “While I paid in cash, I checked my account and discovered money was also withdrawn from it,” he said.
The government brought FASTag so that travellers can save time on highways. However, people complained that the time it takes hasn’t reduced much. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) issued a statement on its Twitter handle saying, “During this transition, NHAI is working diligently to ease out any delays at certain toll plazas due to teething issues.”
“The complaints regarding FASTag should be brought to the notice of the road development authorities, toll plazas and banks, where they can be addressed,” said Vijay Kumbhar, Pune-based RTI activist who also faced a problem and was asked to pay in cash on Pune-Sangli highway, despite having a FASTag on his vehicle.
Prassana Patwardhan, chairman and managing director, Purple Buses, said, “The government’s move is good, but, it is being executed without conducting proper back-end work. Transporters have less issues as the government machinery is issuing the FASTag directly to them, the main issues are being faced by private vehicle owners.There are also issues from the banks, wherein their servers are not functioning, or the cash does not get credited. The common man is at a loss here.”
An HDFC bank employee from the FC road branch on the basis of anonymity said that since the past 10 days, many people have been visiting the bank to enquire about FASTag.
Ranjeet Deshmukh, an IT engineer who has not yet installed a FASTag, said, “I am not aware of the process. But since it is mandatory, I will check the process and install it at the earliest.
For Raghunath Kamble, a driver, the FASTag hasn’t helped much as he still has to wait in a queue at toll plazas. “Despite the problems, this is a welcome move, as now we do not have to carry cash and receipts,” he said.