The state-owned NHAI (National Highways Authority of India) has no information about faulty FASTags and the fines imposed on motorists if their FASTags fail at highway toll stations.
If a driver does not have a FASTag or it does not work, the person must pay double the toll at toll plazas.
More than 6 crore FASTags have been issued as of October 31, 2022, according to the NHAI.
However, it has no information on the number of faulty FASTag cases and the total amount of fines collected from users despite their vehicles being fitted with the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag.
In response to RTI questions about the number of faulty FASTag instances and the number of fines collected from users for non-functional FASTags, NHAI said “such data is not available”.
“Total number of 60,277,364 FASTags have been issued until 31.10.2022,” it said in response to a filing filed by PTI under the Right to Information Act.
With a FASTag, a user can pay the toll electronically without having to stop at the toll booths set up by the road authorities.
Since February 16, 2021, the government has made FASTag mandatory for both private and commercial vehicles.
According to the rules, vehicles that do not have a valid or functional FASTag must pay double the toll as a fine.
As to whether criminal action has been taken against a FASTag-issuing agency for faulty FASTag, NHAI said, “such data is not available”.
“Total toll collected through FASTag since 16.02.2021 to 16.04.2022 as per NPCI data for NHAI fee plaza is Rs 39,118.15 crore,” said the RTI reply.
The total toll levied for NHAI fee plaza during FY22 was Rs 34,535 crore, the RTI response said, citing data from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
Currently, a FASTag is issued by 24 banks. There are complaints from users that FASTags sometimes don’t work properly at toll plazas, causing them to pay double tolls.
NHAI has Helpline No. 1033 to handle inquiries and complaints at national highway tax plazas.
“Most complaints are immediately resolved by the customer service representative. Other complaints are forwarded to the relevant NHAI regional offices and banks for necessary resolution,” it said.
However, in most cases of non-functional tag complaints, a user either cancels the FASTag and purchases another or the publisher’s bank provides a new tag later. But the user will never get back the overpaid amount because of an unreadable RFID tag.
The Indian Highway Management Company Limited (IHMCL), incorporated with shareholdings from NHAI, concessionaire and financial institutions, is charged with the implementation of electronic toll collection on the state highways.
However, IHMCL, incorporated under the Companies Act, 1956, “does not fall within the definition of ‘Public Authority’ under Section 2(h) of Right to Information Act, 2005,” NHAI said.
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