Union Road and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday directed the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to issue FASTags free until December 1, ostensibly to encourage people to move towards cashless and seamless travel.
“Free FASTags will be available at all points of sale of the NHAI and they will also be made available at other places having a high potential of sales,” Gadkari told reporters at a press conference here. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is putting in deposit money of Rs 150 on behalf of each user for now.
Almost 90 per cent toll plazas are ready with FASTag infrastructure as of now and only some new toll plazas will face teething issues, the minister said. The government had announced that it would make FASTags or electronic toll collection system mandatory across all 537 toll plazas from December 1.
The current mechanism of FASTag allows one hybrid lane, which can accept both cash and cashless transactions. Under this electronic system, the toll is deducted from the RFID (radio frequency identification)-enabled FASTag fixed on the windshield of a vehicle.
Gadkari also directed the NHAI to ensure deployment of the best technology to make the FASTag project a success.
The government has decided to deploy central prabhari officers in states to monitor the preparedness and ensure 100 per cent electronic tolling. The officers are required to take steps to fill the gaps and undertake three visits of a minimum of three days at appointed places between November 17 and December 10.
Meanwhile, in reply to a Lok Sabha question, Gadkari said that the government has issued challans worth Rs 577 crore since the new Motor Vehicles Act came into effect.
As many as 3.8 million challans, worth Rs 577.5 crore, have been issued since the implementation of the new law.
"According to information available in the database of NIC (Vahan, Sarathi), 3,839,406 traffic challans in 18 states and Union Territories were issued," the reply stated.
The data is available for Chandigarh, Puducherry, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Delhi, Rajasthan, Bihar, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, and Haryana.
Tamil Nadu saw the highest number of challans at 1,413,996. Only 58 challans were issued in Goa.
The government recently said it had no information about any state not implementing the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019. However, some states have reduced penalties in accordance with the powers granted to them under the Act.
On the progress of national highways, he said that highways worth Rs 10,000 crore have been approved in the current financial year under the hybrid annuity model.