New Delhi: All four-wheelers sold in India from 1 December will be fitted with FASTag, a device that enables automatic deduction of toll charges without motorists having to stop at toll plazas to make the payment.

The road ministry’s decision is in line with the government’s push for digitization and cashless payments, especially after last November’s invalidation of high-value banknotes triggered an unprecedented cash crunch. The move will also help reduce congestion at toll plazas, and petrol consumption by idling vehicles, and speed up traffic.

Motor vehicles “sold on and after 1 December, 2017, shall be fitted with FASTag as may be specified by the central government, from time to time by the manufacturer of the vehicle or authorized dealer..," the ministry said in a notification on Thursday.

Introduced in April 2016, FASTag enables near non-stop movement of vehicles through toll plazas and the convenience of cashless payments of toll fees. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) launched a FASTag lane in all 370 toll plazas under its ambit on 1 October.

FASTag is a radio-frequency identification (RFID)-enabled sticker issued by the NHAI and can be bought through banks, authorized dealers and Common Services Centres near toll plazas. It employs RFID technology for making toll payments directly from a pre-paid account linked to it. The minimum recharge amount is Rs100 and maximum Rs1 lakh. FASTag users get SMS alerts for all their toll transactions.

“We have been waiting for the public to adopt this technology for cashless tolls and faster movement on national highways but unfortunately there has been not a very good response," a senior government official said on condition of anonymity. “As a result we decided to make it a compulsion to ensure there is a wider acceptability." FASTag will not be compulsory for existing vehicle owners.

“It is a step in the right direction and we as an industry are ready for it," said Vinod Aggarwal, chief executive officer and managing director of VE Commercial Vehicles Ltd. “It is an add-on feature, which can be sold through dealerships in the case of commercial vehicles. The move will facilitate the faster execution of clearances at toll plazas."

For more than a year, NHAI has been trying to speed up the adoption of FASTags. In August it launched two mobile applications—MyFASTag and FASTag Partner—for electronic toll collection and recharge of FASTags through mobile phones.

Amrit Raj contributed to this story.

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