Our road ministry seems to make announcements every second day. More often than not, these have concrete (pun unintended) dates attached to them. This time around, the announcement comes from Road, Transport and Highways minister, Nitin Gadkari. The announcement is about the adoption of FASTags for all the four wheelers in India within the next four months. Gadkari said that vehicles without the FASTags will not be allowed to cross a toll. He said this on the sidelines of a question on toll tax to be abolished entirely. Gadkari mentioned that he is the creator of toll and while it cannot be abolished, based on conditions the tax levied may be lower or higher. He further elaborated that the government doesn't have money to maintain the roads and hence toll tax cannot be cut out from the process. School buses though could be exempt from toll in the near future.
FASTags are basically electronic toll collection which doesn't require manual intervention. The electronic scanner checks the vehicle's RFID (a sticker on the front left windscreen) and automatically deducts the toll amount. The user is expected to refill the FASTag through his bank or directly at the toll booth, a couple of days before the validity ends. Currently, most of the toll plazas have a single lane or at the maximum two lanes for FASTags.
Gadkari further added that drivers without FASTag enter these designated lanes and increase the wait time. While details on the four month FASTag adoption scheme aren't out yet, it could be a success given that most new cars come with a pre-fixed RFID sticker. Moreover, Gadkari says that those without FASTags will not be allowed to pass. There is no clarity yet if they can pay cash or even the penalty and pass through. This scheme though might benefit all given that the wait time at tolls will be less. This in turn means lower emissions, better fuel efficiency and generally lesser wear and tear of the vehicle. Lower stress levels due to the lesser wait time as well as others trying to cut lanes at tolls too is a bonus.