NEW DELHI: Getting a FASTag for your vehicle may buy you peace of mind. While starting this midnight vehicles without the RFID tag on their windshield will have to cough up twice the normal toll in case they pay cash at a toll plaza on a National Highway, even those not venturing onto highways face a challan for violating provisions of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules.
State transport departments have started sending text messages to vehicle owners 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, in case you are caught.
And things are only going to get worse from here. 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.
After almost 10 months, about 3 lakh investors in five of Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund’s six debt schemes that are in the process of closing down will receive part of their money during this week.
It’s a different matter that the tag is useless on city roads and most state highways, leave alone using it to pay your parking fees. For those not planning to drive down a national highway, it will only result in coughing up Rs 200 to buy a FASTag from a bank or a wallet operator.
While new cars sold since December 2017 are coming with FASTags, which are working, nearly 75 lakh tags fixed prior to this date by vehicle manufacturers had become dud.
\Even now nearly 20% of highway commuters don’t have FASTags on their vehicles, which has prompted the union road transport ministry to “seek cooperation” from states for enforcement of the new rule. Estimates suggested that nearly two crore four-wheeler and bigger vehicles are yet to buy FASTag.
Though some of the states have signed MoU with the NHAI to extend the FASTag-based transaction for toll collection, there has been very little impact on the ground. For example, while the FASTag is accepted on the UP government-owned and tolled expressways, this is not accepted on Yamuna Expressway since it’s not under the government control. Moreover, different municipal corporations including Delhi have issued their own RFID tags for commercial vehicles, resulting in commercial vehicles using multiple tags.
Besides, the Centre is silent on what happens to nearly 73 lakh vehicle owners who were made to pay for the RFID tags that preceded FASTags but turned out to be duds.
The government is banking on the new cashless mechanism to check leakage at toll booths, as highway developers were often found to be under-reporting collections, apart from a smoother traffic flow at the plazas and to reduce congestion. 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.