As of November 18, 6.712 million FASTags had been issued by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari informed Rajya Sabha on November 25 in a written response. The ministry has decided that all lanes at National Highway toll plazas will become FASTag lanes starting December 1 (except one lane on either side which shall be kept as hybrid lane). He had no information about whether the government expected more than one lakh crore per year from toll collection.
Responding to a similar question in the Lok Sabha on November 21, Gadkari had said that as of November 14, the Road Transport ministry had issued about 6.6 million FASTags. From the two responses, it is visible that in less than a week (November 14-18), more than 100,000 FASTags were issued.
FASTags, originally introduced in 2014, are prepaid RFID tags which can be used to pay tolls on highways without stopping at the plaza. They are used by both passenger and commercial vehicles. These have been accepted across India’s entire highway network since 2017. Gadkari had previously called FASTags the “Aadhaar for vehicles“.
FASTags will be integrated with e-way bills: E-way bills will also be integrated with FASTags in order to overcome the existing challenge in track and trace mechanism for GST E-Way Bill (EWB) System and enhance the efficiency in its monitoring; and an MoU was signed on October 14 between the Indian Highways Management Company Limited (IHMCL) and GST Network (GSTN) for the same, both the responses noted.
FASTag related data will be managed centrally:
“To enhance National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) programme coverage and to offer seamless services to consumers across the country, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) through Indian Highways Management Company Limited (IHMCL) has launched scheme guidelines for inclusion of State Fee Plazas under NETC programme. NHAI has signed agreements with certain states,” said Gadkari, in response to if the government is planning to implement One Nation One FASTag scheme.
Gadkari did not reveal the name of the states with which NHAI has signed these agreements. He said that a trial run for dedicated FASTag lanes is currently underway at certain toll plazas. “NHAI has appointed Nodal officers at all fee plazas. Government has appointed Central Prabhari (in-charge) officers to monitor the progress,” he said.
FASTags are also being issued by 23 certified banks at places like National Highways toll plazas and selected bank branches, and in May 2019, the Transport ministry said that FASTags can be purchased from Amazon as well. Between 2017 and September 2019, electronic toll collection by FASTags had been over Rs 12,850 crore.