The Union Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has directed to ensure FASTag at all tracks at toll plazas in the country. The ministry has directed concessionaire companies in charge of toll plazas to implement FASTag before December 31.
According to the July 2019 order, FASTag was to be implemented in all vehicles by June 2020. However, the deadline was extended to December 2020 following the pandemic. Once the order is implemented, vehicles will need FASTag to pass through toll plazas. As part of this, FASTag is mandatory for new vehicles.
But with all tracks at Paliyekkara toll plaza switching to FASTag, there is uncertainty regarding the vehicles which are using free passes. People residing in a 10 kilometres radius area of the toll plaza are using free passes provided by the state government.
The government was paying the amount of free passes to the toll plaza. Nobody knows how toll charges will be collected from these residents once FASTag is made mandatory. It is the Kerala government which should decide on the free passes.
Meanwhile, Paliyekakra toll plaza chief operating officer A. V. Sooraj said they have been able to reduce traffic at the plaza by solving the technical issues with FASTag tracks.
Rush continues in non FASTag tracks
The huge rush of vehicles in tracks that do not have FASTag is continuing at Paliyekkara toll plaza. At present the toll plaza has employed staff to change vehicles without FASTag from dedicated tracks to Hybrid tracks.
Many vehicles, which do not have enough cash in their FASTag accounts, come to know of it only after reaching the toll booth. At present, the plaza is charging twice the toll amount from such vehicles.
The toll plaza COO informed that it was the responsibility of the vehicle owner to ensure enough cash in the FASTag account. By imposing the penalty, the toll plaza is only implementing the directive of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), he added.