Without a valid FASTag, get ready to pay double the toll fee

Mamuni Das New Delhi | Updated on May 17, 2020

Vehicles that enter the dedicated FASTag lanes on the national highways with non-activated FASTags or without enough money in the FASTag wallet will have to pay double the toll amount.

This is according to a decision of the Road Transport and Highways Ministry and will encourage people to top up their FASTags and prevent userswithout money in their FASTag wallet from driving into the dedicated lanes and insist on using the lanes meant for hassle-free passage.

The Ministry notified an amendment in the National Highways Fee (Determination of Rates and Collection) Rules, 2008 on Friday. Before this amendment, the user of a vehicle was required to pay twice the payable fee at the toll plaza if the vehicle didn't have the FASTag and entered the dedicated lane, said an official source.

Users without enough money in the wallet clog the highways and refuse to pay penalty since they already have FASTags, explained an official. The Ministry’s move will bring further clarity in the rules on who can use the dedicated lanes, the official added.

“We still see vehicles crossing toll plazas with non-functional FASTag, or with not enough money in the wallet. This leads to human to human interaction and exchange of currency. This decision will encourage more people to use functional FASTags with enough money topped up in the account so that toll amount can be paid,” Ravi Chandra Palekar, first CEO of Indian Highways Management Company Ltd (IHMCL) and who is now with Paytm Payments Bank, told BusinessLine.

On the other hand, the user is not always responsible for use of currency or human-to-human contact or clogging of highways. “At times, if the toll plaza equipment and systems are not functioning properly, use of handheld devices are required,” said Palekar, who initiated rollout of the electronic toll collection program at the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).

Before the Covid-19 triggered lockdown, approximately 70 per cent revenue in toll plazas accrued from commercial vehicles, and 30 per cent from private vehicles, according to industry sources.

Now, roughly 60 per cent of commercial vehicles are back on highways moving essential goods, while private vehicles are avoiding use of toll plazas, say the sources adding that the numbers vary across toll plazas.

“Stoppage of inter-State movement, apart from the fear of Covid-19, is discouraging people (from using currency and national highways),” said Palekar.

Now private users are also making the effort to be a part of the cashless, contactless, electronic payment system for toll and parking payments.

“We are seeing instances of private vehicle users, who don't need FASTags, also activating FASTags,” Palekar said.

The top banks in terms of transaction of FASTags are ICICI Bank, IDFC First, PayTM, say industry sources.

Published on May 17, 2020

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