BENGALURU: The Centre’s move to make FASTag mandatory across the country is facing resistance from vehicle owners, particularly taxi drivers.
Many have installed the tag but have decided not to top up the cards, thereby ensuring cash is still being paid in the FASTag lanes. Wednesday is the final deadline for adopting this mode of payment or drivers will have to pay double the normal fare. However, only 50% of vehicle users in Karnataka have opted for it while 55% in Bengaluru have purchased it.
TNIE visited the Essel Devanahalli Toll Booth leading to the airport. Out of the 19 lanes here, lane numbers 1 to 9, which are away from the airport, only lane 8 is marked for cash. In the reverse direction, among lane numbers 10 to 19, only lane 18 accepted cash. However, chaos prevailed as drivers zoomed to the FastTag lane and then ended up paying cash. Some were reversing their vehicles to enter cash lanes. The staff were doing their best to impose the rules.
An employee of a private firm said, “For namesake, they have pasted the FASTag sticker and entered the lanes earmarked for it. However, neither do they maintain the minimum balance of Rs 150 nor do they have any cash in it. We call them blacklisted tag holders. Agents at the toll booths are finally forced to accept cash from them as they have already entered the lane and many cars are in queue behind.”
Another employee conceded that by adopting this practice, they are defeating the whole idea. “The boom gates automatically allow one to pass in 10 seconds. But due to nil balance, they spend time as before paying up cash, collecting receipt, collecting change and so,” he said.
A top official said that only two lanes on either side leading to and from the airport to the city will be cash lanes during peak hours. At Hoskote and Nelamangala, there will be two lanes for cash payment. In the rest of the toll booths in the city, there will only be one cash lane on either side.