The demand for FASTag at local stores in the city grew on Monday owing to the Centre’s decision to implement the system of cashless toll tax payment from midnight Monday even though the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has set up on-the-spot FASTag counters at all the toll plazas across Jharkhand.,
NHAI has ruled that those without FASTag, the electronic system of collecting toll tax based on barcode-embedded stickers that need to be pasted on the windshield of a vehicle, would be charged double as penalty.
NHAI’s regional officer (RO) S.K. Mishra said they have been running extensive campaigns to encourage people to use FASTag for the past three months in Jharkhand. But despite the efforts many vehicles were still running without FASTag.
“You can still get a FASTag on-the-spot from any of the counters set up at all the toll booths in Jharkhand,” said Mishra, adding that, vehicle owners will now have a choice to either get a FASTag on the spot or pay double toll tax.
Local shops offering FASTag services in Ranchi were flooded with applications on Monday. Most of the applicants were local residents who travel to neighbouring districts regularly, shop owners said.
Devi Kumar, owner of a FASTag service shop in Kokar, said the demand for FASTag almost doubled on Monday. He had nearly 100 customers at his shop. Besides, there were several enquiries over phone from people who wanted to get a FASTag immediately before leaving for another city by road.
“The sale of FASTag had picked up pace in December when the government decided not to allow vehicles to pass toll booths without FASTag. Then the demand dropped once the government decided to allow cash transactions for a few more weeks,” said Devi, adding that the demand has again gone up after the government’s decision of sticking to the deadline of February 15.
However, those who can afford to wait for a week to get a FASTag for their vehicle can apply online from the convenience of their home and get the tag delivered to their doorstep, said Rajan Kumar, an employee at HDFC Bank, Ratu Road.
“It is a simple process. You can visit our website and apply for FASTag. The tag will be delivered to your registered address within five days,” he said.
Other private banks and nationalized banks are also offering FASTag services in Ranchi. However, most private banks are only providing online services in a bid to avoid crowding at branches. “We also have to ensure that people do not overcrowd banks to get FASTag since we are still following Covid-19 precautions,” said an employee at ICICI Bank.