In relief to vehicle users across the country, the Narendra Modi-led government has extended the deadline to get FASTags by 30 days. Earlier, government had made FASTag mandatory from December 15 for all vehicles to make electronic payment on toll booths. However, a day before the deadline, the government extended the date by a month citing "shortage of supply" of the radio frequency identification (RFID) stickers. The government also announced that it will convert up to 25 per cent of FASTag lanes at national highway toll plazas to hybrid lanes for a month. The hybrid lane will accept FASTag as well as other modes of payment.
In a letter to the NHAI, the ministry of road transport and highways said, "Considering the request of NHAI and further the citizens are not put to inconvenience... it is decided that depending on the traffic pile up at high traffic volume fee plazas, not more than 25 per cent 'FASTag lane of fee plaza' may be temporarily converted to hybrid lanes."
"This is to be considered on a case to case basis," it added.
The ministry further said, "A daily evolution of such cases be made to take necessary corrective action." “It should be ensured that the least possible number of the declared 'FASTag lane of Fee Plaza' be converted into the hybrid lanes temporarily… it is clarified that it is a temporary measure to be adopted for 30 days only to facilitate smooth flow of traffic so that no inconvenience is caused to the citizens," the ministry wrote.
The NHAI had earlier sent a letter to the ministry seeking an extension of 45 days for the conversion of all lanes to FASTag lanes. The authority stated that there was a deficit in the supply of the tags after the Centre’s announcement of giving them free of cost until December 15.
"It has been realised that the chip used in the RFID tag is imported which has a lead time of 6 weeks and the average total production capacity of all manufacturers is in the range of 30-50,000 per day," NHAI wrote.
“The banks and other selling platform supply of FASTag is contingent upon the production capacity and at present approximately 18 lakh tags inventory is available in the market. With lead time due to the import of the chip and subsequent production of the tag, there is a supply deficit in the market and all citizens have not been able to obtain FASTag,” it said.
What is FasTag?
FASTag is a device that uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for making toll payments directly while a vehicle crosses the toll plaza. Affixed on the windscreen of the vehicle, FASTag enables a customer to make the toll payments directly from the account linked to it.
FASTags are being issued by 22 certified banks including Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, HDFC, SBI, Yes Bank, IndusInd Bank, Yes Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Bank Of Baroda, and others. FASTags can also be availed by various channels such as Point-of-Sale (POS) at National Highway toll plazas.
Interestingly, FASTags are also available on e-commerce platforms such as Amazon. For any assistance related to FASTags, one can call on the helpline number issued by the government – 1033.
It is worth mentioning here that the FASTag offers the convenience of cashless payment along with benefits like - savings on fuel and time as the customer does not has to stop at the toll plaza.