Starting December 1st this year, all lanes at the toll fee plazas across the national highways in India will be converted to FASTag lanes. The government declared the same recently in a move to reduce traffic as well as to ensure congestion-free movement at toll plazas. For those who are unaware, FASTag is a prepaid tag through which the toll fee is automatically deducted. This negates the need for a vehicle to stop at a toll plaza for cash transactions. That said, initially, it will allow one ‘hybrid lane’ at every toll plaza in which, both FASTag, as well as other modes of payment, will be accepted. At a later stage, this lane is also going to be converted to FASTag only lane as well.
After the said deadline, toll plaza users, who are travelling without a FASTag are going to be charged double the amount if they are passing through a FASTag only lane. At a toll plaza, a FASTag lane is reserved exclusively for the vehicles which are affixed with the FASTag sticker according to the National Highways Fee (Determination of Rates and Collection) Rules, 2008. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, in a letter to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), had asked to ensure that every toll plaza, there should be a strict implementation of the new fee rules.
The FASTag works on the principle of radio-frequency identification (RFID) with the FASTag sticker being affixed on the windscreen of the vehicle. This process allows the direct deduction of the payment from linked prepaid or the savings account of the user and negates the process of the vehicle stopping at the plaza for cash transactions. That said, at the moment, at several toll plazas, it was found that even the non-FASTag users were using the dedicated FASTag lanes and paying the fee through cash. This has resulted in traffic congestion at these lanes and defeating the overall purpose of the FASTag. This is the reason why this new toll collection technology has not been able to grow as per the desired rate.
In order to ensure that the decision to convert all lanes at the toll plazas to FASTag lanes by December 1st this year is implemented smoothly, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has asked NHAI to access the overall requirement of FASTags across the country and make it available in the required numbers. The required civil and electronic infrastructure at all toll plazas is also to be provided before the implementation date of December 1. The NHAI has also been asked to identify and resolve logistics and other problems that are likely to lead to any law and order problem in this venture.