FASTags in India: A necessity?

On January 1, 2021, FASTags were made mandatory for all four-wheelers which were purchased before December 1, 2017, by the decision of the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH).Today, practically 80% of India’s highways have been equipped with a FASTag scanner.

FASTag is a sticker that is pasted on the windshield of your car. This sticker enables electronic transmission of payment while crossing any toll booth. This sticker manifests the use of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology to perform its functions.


Almost all the toll booths are equipped with an RFID scanner that scans the FASTag. This results in an automatic deduction of the charges from the tag. For the tag to work, it must be linked to a prepaid or savings or current bank account.

Currently, there are 2 types of FASTags, namely ‘M’ and ‘N’, where Category ‘M’ refers to a 4 wheel passenger vehicle and category ‘N’ stands for a vehicle used for carrying both goods and passengers.

The Central Government has begun a drive that makes it mandatory for every four-wheeler to use a FASTag. Also, the toll plazas now only have a single booth for the cars which do not have the tag, and the toll collected in those lanes is double the amount paid in FASTag lanes. This step has been taken to encourage people to switch to using FASTags as fast as possible.


WHY SHOULD WE USE IT?

Whenever I used to travel across states via road, I used to get stuck in traffic jams often due to the line to cross the toll plaza. FASTags have been introduced for the easy passage of vehicles through the toll plazas.

Apart from this, it affects the environment too. India has more than 14 states which have excessive levels of air pollution, and a Toll plaza comes out as a primary contributor to the upwelling of pollution levels. The removal of the traffic jam also leads to less waiting time which in turn results in less fuel consumption of the static car.


CONTROVERSIES


On 3rd March, the Bombay High Court had asked the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to file an affidavitand forwarded the matter for hearing on March 17.[1] The petitioner had requested to continue the cash counter for the ordinary citizens. The petition also claimed that the authorities are charging double the amount of the tax when paid in cash.


On 5th March an application for a stay on the amendment of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, by which fitment of a FASTag has been made compulsory for all vehicles and a valid FASTag is a must while buying third-party insurance, was heard. The Karnataka High Court rejected this plea stating “We must modernize”.[2]

Recently the commuters on Delhi-Jaipur Highway were forced to pay in cash because of the faulty FASTag scanners[3]. These people had to pay double the fare plus an additional fine all because of the glitches in the system.


CONCLUSION

There are many problems encountered, when a developing nation like ours, switches to newer technology.Especially when many people are accustomed to breaking traffic rules. However, this change is necessary not only for development but also for the environment. FASTags can increase the speed of our lifestyle. Although it is also true that this transition should be made as smoothly as possible because ultimately an idea introduced for the benefit of our people should be felt and seen in the same manner too.

Furthermore, the government should understand the plight of the common man. There is no need for doubling the taxes at the cash counter facility. It just adds to the burden for a commoner. It may result in making the common masses turn away from noticing the benefits of the technology which sometimes does more harm than good. Technological advancements are important, but the environment and resources to sustain this technology is equally important

[1] “Bombay High Court Seeks Centre's Response on PIL against FASTag System - ET Auto.” ETAuto.com, 3 Mar. 2021, auto.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/industry/bombay-high-court-seeks-centres-response-on-pil-against-fastag-system/81313126. [2] Plumber, Mustafa. “'We Must Modernize' : Karnataka High Court Refuses To Stay FASTag Implementation.” Live Law, Live Law, 5 Mar. 2021, www.livelaw.in/news-updates/karnataka-high-court-fastag-on-vehicles-central-motor-vehicle-rules-170790. [3] Staff, Swarajya. “Delhi-Jaipur Highway Commuters Forced To Pay Cash At Toll Plazas Due To Technical Glitches In FASTag System .” Swarajyamag, swarajyamag.com/news-brief/delhi-jaipur-highway-commuters-forced-to-pay-cash-at-toll-plazas-due-to-technical-glitches-in-fastag-system.

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