"Within one year all physical toll booths in the country will be removed and toll will be collected based on global positioning system (GPS) imaging," says Nitin Gadkari, Union minister for road transport and highways.
Responding to a question on FASTag and toll collection, the minister says, "Government has finalised GPS-based technology toll collection to ensure seamless movement of vehicles across the country. I want to assure the House that within one year all physical toll booths in the country will be removed. It means that toll collection will happen via GPS. The money will be collected based on GPS imaging."
According to Mr Gadkari, there are still over 2 million vehicles operating without FASTag in the country. "Government has taken various steps to incentivize the use of FASTag for higher participation, such as periodic sale of FASTag 'free of cost'; cashback facilities by certain banks for payment through FASTag; dissemination of value proposition in terms of smooth ride over, reduced fuel consumption and enhanced experience at fee plazas. To promote digital and common mode of payment, fee plazas of willing states have also on-boarded under National electronic toll collection (ETC) programme to bring uniform experience to road users," he added.
He says, the proportion of FASTag penetration has increased from 30% in August 2019 to more than 90% after declaration of all lanes as FASTag lane of fee plaza.
Mr Gadkari says he has instructed police inquiry for those vehicles which do not pay toll using FASTags. There are cases of toll theft and GST evasion cases if FASTags are not fitted in vehicles, he added.
Responding to a question whether vehicles without FASTag can be compounded as per any prescribed provisions, the minister says, "Section 177 of the Motor Vehicles Act provides that 'whoever contravenes any provision of this Act or of any rule, regulation or notification made thereunder shall, if no penalty is provided for the offence, be punishable for the first offence with the fine which may extend to Rs500 and for any second or subsequent offence with fine which may extend to Rs1,500."
Some members of Parliament (MPs) wanted to know if the government has addresses issues of locals, villagers and farmers who need to cross toll plazas frequently in their day-to-day activities.
Mr Gadkari, the minister says, "No fee is collected from two wheelers, three wheelers, tractors, combine harvesters and animal drawn vehicles, where a service road or alternative road is not available."
"As per the National Highways Fee (Determination of Rates and Collection) Rules there is a provision of monthly pass for a person owning a non-commercial vehicle and residing within 20 kms from the fee plaza. A commercial vehicle, excluding vehicle plying under National Permit, registered in a particular district is eligible for payment of 50% of the prescribed user fee on all fee plazas, which are located within that district," he added.
From 16 February 2021, the ministry of road transport & highways (MoRTH) had made FASTag mandatory on all lanes in the fee plazas on national highways.
"...as per NH Fee Rules 2008, any vehicle not fitted with FASTag or vehicle without valid, functional FASTag entering into the FASTag lane of the fee plaza shall pay a fee equivalent to two times of the fee applicable to that category," the ministry had said in a release.