Any vehicle without a functional FASTag will have to shell out twice the fee at toll plazas starting February 16, as the tag was made mandatory for all vehicles by the Road Transport Ministry. From Tuesday, all lanes at toll plazas will be declared as FASTag lanes, the Ministry said in a statement on Sunday. It had earlier made the tags mandatory for all vehicles — even those that were purchased before December 2017, replacing the earlier diktat according to which FASTags were mandatory only for four-wheelers brought after December 1, 2017.
“This has been done to further promote fee payment through digital mode, reduce waiting time and fuel consumption, and provide for a seamless passage through the fee plazas,” the Road Transport Ministry said in a statement. “Any vehicle not fitted with FASTag or vehicle without valid, functional FASTag entering into the FASTag lane of the fee plaza shall pay a fee equivalent to two times of the fee applicable to that category”.
FASTags, originally introduced in 2014, are prepaid RFID tags which can be used to pay tolls on highways without stopping at the plaza.
The Ministry had earlier announced that FASTags would become mandatory while getting third-party vehicle insurance policies. This rule shall be applicable from April 1, 2021. Additionally, the tags will be required for any vehicle owner who wishes to renew its fitness certificates. Earlier, as per a July decision, FASTag details were supposed to be captured in the VAHAN database during issuance of the certificates; it wasn’t mandatory.
While it is only now that the stickers have become essential for four-wheelers brought before 2017, there have been other moves that made them practically unavoidable. For instance, a few months ago, the ministry made them mandatory for availing discounts offered on two-way tolls. This is not to mention how several lanes at these toll plazas are now available only to vehicles with FASTag stickers. Per a report from February 2020, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) had collected ₹20 crore from over 18 lakh “defaulters” who were supposed to stay out of these exclusive lanes.