Chennai

Demand for FASTags spikes, as December 1 deadline nears

Card unavailability an issue, say residents

The demand for FASTag cards, an electronic toll collection system, has seen a quantum increase this past month.

Till September, across the country, 15,000 applications were received in a day. This increased to 30,000 in the first week of November. This week, as the December 1 mandatory deadline inches closer, the numbers have gone up to 50,000 applications per day.

The Central government had announced that from December 1, all toll plazas in the country would become electronic toll collection enabled. Cash payments would be available only in the extreme left lanes at the plazas.

FASTag cards are radio frequency-enabled ID cards, with details of each vehicle, that are pasted on the respective vehicles. They are either pre-paid or are linked to bank accounts/wallets. As vehicles pass through any of the 48 toll plazas under the control of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) in the State, a reader in the plaza will automatically deduct the fee and lift the boom barrier.

“There will be no manual intervention. It will also reduce the waiting time at toll plazas and the pollution from vehicle exhausts, since there will be no need to wait for the transaction to be carried out. Only one lane each on either side of the plaza will have cash payment facilities,” explained Pavan Kumar, chief general manager (technical) and regional officer, NHAI, in Chennai.

“We have already completed the installation of electronic scanners and the required hardware, and have connected it to servers at all the 482 lanes in toll plazas across the State. Apart from designated VIP vehicles upto the rank of Chief Secretary of a State, ambulances, police vehicles, official vehicles, executive magistrate, fire-fighting vehicles, funeral vans, designated vehicles for the disabled and inspection vehicles of the NHAI are exempted from paying toll,” he said.

Local residents who have passes will continue to be able to pay the due amount and get 50 rides or drive through for 30 days, whichever is earlier. However, they too, like the exempted vehicles, will have to get FASTags, since the idea is to drive through without stopping.

There are seven different tag classes for different vehicles. The tag has a lifetime validity and is vehicle specific. They should be fixed on the front windshield. If cards are damaged during an accident, replacements can be obtained. If vehicles are sold, the cards can be deactivated.

‘Sketchy information’

However, there are issues of availability of the card due to a spike in their demand. A popular shopping app, which is linked to the FASTag app, shows that the card is not unavailable.

“I have applied for a card with an e-wallet. They have promised the card by Friday. I have to see when it arrives, and then I still have to learn to affix it. The information available in the media about how to buy cards, affix them, activate and recharge them is quite sketchy,” said M. Kumar, a resident of Mettukuppam. Issues with bank account-linked cards, like the amount to be deducted and a minimum threshold, do exist. When cards are linked with e-wallets, the recharging is quicker, but those linked with bank accounts, take upto an hour.

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 6:54:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/demand-for-fastags-spikes-as-december-1-deadline-nears/article30091349.ece

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