Lucknow: Making FASTag mandatory across the country, the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways on Sunday issued a statement stating that from February 15 midnight any vehicle not fitted with these RFID tag will be charged double the toll at electronic toll plazas as from February 16, 2021 onwards all lanes in the fee plazas on National Highways shall be declared ‘FASTag lane of the fee plaza’. In addition to this, those who are not venturing onto highways could also face a challan for violating provisions of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules.
“Therefore, as per NH Fee Rules 2008, any vehicle not fitted with FASTag or vehicle without valid, functional FASTag entering into the FASTag lane of the fee plaza shall pay a fee equivalent to two times of the fee applicable to that category,” the statement read.
The government has amended the Motor Vehicle Rules making it mandatory for all vehicles (four-wheelers and above) to fix FASTag from January 1 and from April, it is mandatory for renewing your vehicle insurance policy.
However, the tag is useless on city roads and most state highways, but can penalised those who are not planning to drive down a national highway, and could result in coughing up Rs 200 to buy a FASTag from a bank or a wallet operator.
State transport departments have started notifying vehicle owners via text messages to pointing to the violation, which most car owners are unaware of, and also mentioning that they are liable to penalty for this offence. The penalty would be Rs 300 for first offence and Rs 500 for repeat offence, if you are caught. In addition, the NHAI has also set up 40,000 points of sale (PoS) to facilitate on-the-spot buying of FASTags on the toll plazas.
As per the ministry, it has been brought in effect to further promote fee payment through digital mode, reduce waiting time and fuel consumption, and provide for a seamless passage through the fee plazas while also keeping a check on leakage at toll booths, as highway developers were often found to be under-reporting collections. Earlier, there was a proposal to completely do away with cash transactions, but officials said invoking the clause of “double” toll charges for cash payers will be a big disincentive.
The ministry had mandated fitment of FASTag in M&N categories of motor vehicles with effect from January 1, 2021. Where, category ‘M’ stands for a motor vehicle with at least four wheels used for carrying passengers. And Category N’ stands for a motor vehicle with at least four wheels used for carrying goods, which may also carry persons in addition to goods.
Making the tags compulsory would also help in ensuring that vehicles pass seamlessly through the toll plazas, as the fee payment would be done electronically.
Talking about the implementation of FASTags Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Sunday said it shouldn’t be extended further, and the vehicle owners should immediately adopt the e-payment facility.
Talking to media about pan-India implementation of FASTags, Gadkari said the government had extended FASTags registration date limit two-three times before and now, it would not be extended further. Now, everybody should immediately buy FASTags, he said adding, that the FASTag registration has gone up to 90 per cent on some routes and only 10 per cent of people are left. FASTag is also available on toll nakas and people should purchase and use it for seamless traffic, he told reporters at the Nagpur airport.
To note, FASTags, which facilitate electronic payment of fee at toll plazas, were introduced in 2016 and since then the central government has extended its deadline from January 1, 2021, to February 15, 2021.