Those entering the toll lanes and paying in non-digital ways will have to pay double the money.



New Delhi: Come December, your drive along the National Highways in the country is set to get faster and smoother. Seeking to eliminate long vehicular queues at toll fee counters on the highways, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has decided to declare all lanes on toll booths as FASTag lanes. This means toll fees at the counters will only be collected electronically and non-FASTag users entering the lanes will have to pay double the money.

The Ministry has instructed the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to ensure strict implementation of the new rule and also make available the required infrastructure at every toll plaza across the country.

Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari had already advocated for FASTag to reduce traffic congestion in the highways due to delay in toll collection.

“The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has decided to declare all lanes in all Toll Fee Plazas on national highways across the country as dedicated ‘FASTag Lanes’ from 1 December this year. According to the National Highways Fee (Determination of Rates and Collection) Rules, 2008, a FASTag lane in a toll plaza is reserved exclusively for the movement of FASTag users. There is also a provision under the rule according to which non-FASTag users are to be charged double the fee if they pass through FASTag lanes,” a senior official of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways said.

In a letter sent to National Highways Authority of India, the Ministry has asked the Authority to provide one hybrid lane at every toll plaza to facilitate and monitor over dimensional or oversized vehicles, where FASTag and other modes of payment will be accepted. This lane will be converted into FASTag lane in a time-bound manner.

The decision will benefit lakhs of people who are stuck in long queues at toll plazas, particularly those near metro cities like Delhi. FASTag facilitates faster payment of fees through the digital mode so that vehicles can move through seamlessly, and traffic jams at the toll plazas can be prevented. The RFID based FASTag is affixed on the windscreen of the vehicle. It allows for direct payment of fee from the prepaid or savings account linked to it, and enables vehicles to drive through without stopping for transactions.

Officials, however, said that a large number of non-FASTag users habitually entered the FASTag lanes and make cash payments. This further led to crowding of the FASTag lanes, and overall traffic congestion at the plaza, defeating the very purpose of the FASTags. As a result, electronic toll collection through FASTags failed to grow as much as it was desired.

In order to ensure smooth implementation of this decision, the Ministry has asked the National Highways Authority of India to assess the overall requirement of FASTags across the country and make it available in requisite numbers.

The required civil and electronic infrastructure at all toll plazas is also to be provided before the implementation date of 1 December 2019.

The Authority has also been asked to identify and resolve logistical and other problems likely to lead to any law and order problems in this venture.