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NPCI to launch FASTag-enabled parking lots across the country; talks at advanced stages in Maharashtra

Even as the new parking facilities are poised to be expanded to cities like Mumbai and Bengaluru, experts have raised concerns about the lack of information around how FASTag-related data is governed. 

We missed this earlier: The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) in a statement last week said that it is in talks with the Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) about launching other FASTag-enabled parking facilities across the country after it inaugurated the first one in Delhi recently.

What are FASTags? FASTags are based on a radio-frequency identification (RFID) system and were initially rolled out in 2014 for faster toll payments in the Golden Quadrilateral between Ahmedabad and Mumbai. Through RFID scanners at toll booths, they enable toll deduction through auto-debits from the driver or vehicle owners’ bank account. FASTags are prepaid rechargeable tags affixed on the windshield of vehicles and connected to the users’ bank account or to an NHAI prepaid wallet to facilitate the quick deduction.

In its statement, the NPCI said that it was, “geared to expand the facility in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, and Trivandrum, amongst other cities” and has initiated discussions with public and private entities like malls, hospitals, and private parking lots for implementing the ‘contactless’ parking facility as well.

DMRC facility launched amid data concerns

Last week, when the first parking facility was launched by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), Pranesh Prakash from the Centre for Internet and Society in Bengaluru, spoke to MediaNama and expressed concerns about the lack of information around how FASTag-related data is governed. “While FASTags have been made mandatory under the Motor Vehicles Act there is currently no law which regulates access to the data generated through the FASTag – now that is a problem,” he said.

Ambiguity on what data is stored

Prakash also said that there is ambiguity on-

  • What data is stored or what data is generated.
  • What data is stored subsequent to a transaction.
  • Where the data is stored – whether it is centralised or decentralised.

The “contactless” parking facilities will allow users to pay the entry/exit charges via FASTag, which will also note its entry time to automatically deduct the chargeable parking fee when the vehicle exits. While only FASTag bearing four-wheelers will be allowed to use the facility, two-wheelers can pay the charges through UPI.

The recently-launched parking facility is at Gate 6 of the Kashmere Gate Metro Station and can accommodate 55 four-wheelers and 174 two-wheelers. The NPCI has said that it also plans on making provisions for commuters to use the National Common Mobility Card at a later stage as ‘most of the commuters would eventually use an NCMC card’.

Timeline of FASTag roll-out

2014– FASTags are rolled out by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highway (MoRTH) for toll payments at 24 toll plazas on the Delhi-Mumbai highway. Earlier, the Ministry had launched a pilot project for the ETC system at 10 toll plazas between Mumbai (Charoti) and Ahmedabad.

2016– The MoRTH starts designated FASTag lanes at 48 Toll plazas on the Mumbai-Delhi highway and the Mumbai-Chennai corridor.

2017– From September 1, every toll booth in the country has at least one exclusively FASTag lane and from October, all cars have to mandatorily be affixed with a FASTag.

The government also enables the online purchase of FASTags through the NPCI and Indian Highways Management Company Limited (IHMCL) websites, alongside offline Common Service Centres.

2019– Amazon allows users to buy FASTags through its platform.

In the same year, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tells Lok Sabha that the government is looking at integrating the electronic toll collection system FASTag and the Logistic Databank (LDB) project with e-way bills in order to track the movement of goods and curb GST evasion.

2020– FASTags become mandatory for all four-wheelers bought before December 2017.

2021– FASTags become mandatory for all four-wheelers, including those bought after December 2017, and to get third-party insurance and fitness certificates.

In the same year, Nitin Gadkari, the Minister of Road Transport and Highway, announces in Lok Sabha that all toll plazas in the country will be removed, and tolls charges will instead be collected through a GPS-based system within a year.

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