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FASTag Explained for UPSC – What, Why, How?

FASTag – a new way to make Toll Payment, Now vehicle owners can make payments of moving cars.

FASTag - a new way to make toll payments
FASTag – a new way to make Toll Payment

FASTag is a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) device that can be used for making toll payments directly while the vehicle is moving.

It has been made mandatory from December 15, 2019, on all National Highway toll plazas. Now FASTag is used for collecting Toll Taxes.

One hybrid lane will continue for cash transactions in addition to FASTag. If you enter into a FASTag lane without a FASTag you will have to pay the double toll.

FASTag sticker is fixed on the center of the windscreen of the vehicle and when the vehicle approaches the toll plaza that sticker is scanned and the customer makes toll payments directly from the account linked to their FASTag.

How does it work?

FASTag can be linked to:

  • Prepaid accounts like a wallet (example Paytm)-owners need to recharge the tag in this method.
  • Savings account money is deducted automatically using this method.

After successful payment of a toll, an SMS alert is received by the owner.

Who is implementing?

FASTag is a part of the National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) program of the Ministry of Road, Transport, and Highways.

FASTag is being implemented by Indian Highways Management Limited (IHML).

Where is FASTag available?

  • It is available at 27,000 points of sales which have been set up by 22 banks.
  • NHAI counters at toll plaza will also be having FASTags.
  • Up until the 1st of December 2019, the FASTags could have been bought for free from NHAI counters but now payment of 150 rupees needs to be made.

Pros of FASTag

  • It will reduce the travel time by cutting the time spent at toll booths.
  • It will remove bottlenecks and will ensure a seamless movement of traffic.
  • It is a method of easy payment and also has the facility of online recharge.
  • Less fuel cost which will lead to fuel-saving and in turn is environment-friendly.
  • SMS alerts will help the user to be aware of toll deductions happening from his account.
  • Online grievance redressal portal has been made available for customers
  • Also, there are cashback and other incentives for its use.
  • Low operating costs as less manpower is needed.
  • Electronic collection of all toll will lead to improved transparency of toll transactions and there will be no corruption.

Cons of FASTag:

  • Local people who lived near the toll plazas and had monthly passes earlier will now have to face bureaucratic problems.
  • Location tracking of citizens is possible by agencies storing FASTag data.
  • Tags sold by banks need to be recharged from that bank itself until its validity period (5 years) is over so these FASTags are not ‘bank-neutral’.
  • State highways still don’t accept FASTag so cash needs to be carried by the vehicle owners.
  • Persons with malicious intent can use RFID scanner, on a parked vehicle, to obtain sensitive information about vehicle owner which is a major security concern.
  • Collecting a double toll from those who will enter the FASTag lane without a FASTag is against the principles of the government. It may be possible that they don’t know about the FASTags.
  • Cloning of the FASTag is possible and may lead to misuse of someone else’s money.

Conclusion

As FASTag is introduced now and in operation. This will save time and money for both govt and vehicle owners. AI can also be implemented along with FASTag so that it can analyse activity usage and accordingly to improve UI.

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