CHENNAI: If you still have not stuck a FASTag on your vehicle, there are more reasons to do it now. In a move that is likely to attract the wrath of several highway commuters, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has decided to do away with all but one hybrid lanes which allow motorists to pay fee through either cash or FASTag at toll plazas. Moreover, non-FASTag vehicles entering the automated lines will be charged double the normal fee from now on. So far, about 25 per cent of lanes (two lanes each on either side) at 13 toll plazas in the State had been earmarked as hybrid. The move to do away with them is to reduce cash payment.
“Now motorists will have only one lane in the extreme left of the toll gate for cash payment. Non-FASTag vehicles entering other lanes will be charged double. The revised rules are being implemented since past few days,” A senior NHAI official told the Express.
Similarly, in case a vehicle with functional FASTag is unable to pay the fee on account of any system failure,the vehicle will be allowed to pass without being charged.“The concessionaires have been issued necessary instructions to adhere to the NHAI guidelines in letter and spirit,” added the official.
Owing to huge vehicular pile up at toll plazas and other infrastructure constraints, the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH) has allowed cash payment in 13 out of the 48 toll gates in Tamil Nadu.
Though the Centre allowed charging double fee from non-FASTag vehicles from January 15, the penal provision had largely remained on papers.
The NHAI’s decision is expected to result in vehicular pile up at toll gates once public transport resumes. Barring the SETC which caters to long-distance commuters, over 9,500 mofussil buses operated by six divisions of TNSTC are yet to get tags, and these buses so far have been using hybrid lanes.
“Transport corporations are reeling under financial crisis and not in a position to purchase FASTag for all the buses. The matter will be taken up for further action,” said a transport official.