Saswat Singhdeo

Bhubaneswar: FASTag, a system using radio frequency identification technology that enables seamless experience for commuters with cashless payments at toll gates, came into force across the country from today. In Odisha, the rollout of the initiative however has received a mixed response from the commuters.

The prepaid tag, attached to windscreen of vehicles allows automatic transaction at toll plazas to avert inconvenience to citizens. While many expressed satisfaction over the new system, several others have raised concerns.

“This is a very good initiative. It will ensure speedy movement of vehicles along the highways,” said a truck driver.

Stressing on the need for proper execution of the new system, another commuter said, “I am quite satisfied with the FASTag but those without the tags should be stopped much before the toll gates to avoid congestion.”

A resident of Balasore who expressed resentment over the new facility, said, “I travel from Balasore to Soro everyday and pay Rs 40 which remains valid for 24 hours but now I have to pay Rs 30 every single time I pass through the toll gate which is expensive.”

“We are asking everyone to have FASTags so that they don’t have to wait. We are using the tags only for the convenience of people. Here, three gates are FASTag and one line is dedicated for cash payment,” said Nakul Chandra Das, Assistant Manager of Pipili toll gate in Puri.

The Central government earlier had announced rollout of mandatory FASTag under electronic toll collection from December 1, which was later extended to December 15, 2019.

However on Saturday, it announced to convert up to 25 per cent of FASTag lanes at national highway toll plazas to hybrid lanes for a month to give more time to commuters to avail FASTags. The hybrid lane will accept FASTag and other modes of payment.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has said that it is a temporary measure to be adopted for 30 days only to facilitate smooth flow of traffic so that no inconvenience is caused to the citizens.

The National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) programme, the flagship initiative of the ministry, has been implemented on a pan-India basis in order to remove bottlenecks and ensure seamless movement of traffic and collection of user fee as per the notified rates, using passive radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.