Centre extends cashless toll plaza deadline till February 15

The aim of 100 per cent FASTag-enabled National Highways (NH) from January 1 has gone for a toss. Long lines of vehicles were found at several toll plazas despite having FASTag in vehicles.

Gyaneshwar Rawalkol, who was travelling from Hyderabad to Mumbai, "At all toll plazas, we had to wait in the queue. I found the senor booms on toll plazas taking time for every car passing by. Also, I believe users, who are having insufficient balance in their FASTag account, have faced more issues."

The intention to enable 100 per cent FASTag at all toll plazas was to prevent the long queues and save fuel. But it flopped completely, he said.

Narisinghrao Erraya, another traveller shared a similar experience. He said, "Earlier while paying through cash/card, one has to wait before the boom barrier. I expected FASTag-enabled lanes will not have such mechanism. However, it was the same. For every individual car in FASTag-enabled lane, there was a waiting time. If this continues, it won't serve the purpose."

Meanwhile, the Union road transport ministry has extended the deadline for 100 per cent collection of toll charges on the NH network through FASTag till February 15. Earlier, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) had announced to completely do away with cash transactions for paying toll charges from January 1. While it continues to impose double penalty on non-FASTag users, who are straying into the FASTag enabled lanes, in order to encourage more and more users to shift to FASTag system.

The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), the implementing agency to enable all state tolls into complete FASTag, has started promotions via jiggle on radio and providing FASTag purchase points at every toll plaza.

Kamlakar Phad, Chief General Manager, MSRDC, said, "By January end, we will enforce 100 percent cashless toll lanes on two toll nakas -- Mumbai-Pune Expressway and Bandra Worli Sealink. As many as 27 listed banks are providing FASTag at all city and state toll plazas apart from selling it online. According to banks, about 2,000 FASTag are being sold daily at these toll plazas and the number is expected to increase."

FASTag is a prepaid tag, affixed on vehicle's windscreen, that enables automatic deduction of toll charges from the linked bank account of the user.

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