Come 1 December and the long queues of vehicles in toll plazas on highways in the West Bengal will vanish. There will be no cash transactions. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has directed the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to go digital about three months ago. The toll fees would be collected digitally across the country. Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari has also announced that FASTags will become mandatory from 1 December. The FASTag stickers will be placed in the windscreens of all the vehicles passing by the toll plazas and the toll fees will be automatically deducted from their bank accounts in digital mode.

Talking to The Statesman today, Mr SK Mallik , general manager and project director of National High ways Authority of India (NHAI), PIO (Durgapur) said that from 1 December, financial transactions will be made digitally in all the four toll plazas under his jurisdiction. These are situated at Beliand (near Maithon) in Jharkhand, Palsit near Memari, Dankuni in Hooghly and Banskopa near Kanksha under Paschim Burdwan district. “We have set up counters in the office complex of the NHAI in all these four toll plazas where vehicle owners can collect the FASTags stickers from the private agencies like Kinetic, Airtel and ICICI Bank,” Mr SK Mallik added.

The FASTag is a tag which will be pasted inside the windshield of the vehicle and is primarily a Radio – Frequency Identification (RFID) enabled. It is linked with the registration details of the vehicle. FASTag readers will be installed overhead in all the toll plazas which will detect the RFID code and debit the toll fee from the pre -paid balance which will be linked with a bank account. The effort will not only further reduce the travelling time from a city or state to another through the busy national highways, but will also be a hassle-free. The scope of loot of cash by dacoits at toll plazas will also come to an end with the new system.

Even the fuel consumption will reduce due to lack of long queues in the toll plazas. At present, many people are employed at manual toll collection counters in the toll plazas. The FASTag system is presently operational in 471 toll plazas across the country, including a number of toll plazas in West Bengal. Indian Highways Management Company Limited , a company incorporated by NHAI and National Payments Corporation of India are the implementing authorities of the dream project of PM Narendra Modi.

A private car owner has to buy a FASTag for Rs.100 only as one time affiliation fee. Thereafter, he/ she can recharge with minimum amount of Rs.200 to a maximum amount of Rs1 lakhs. In all the toll plazas of the country, the electronic toll collection system has been rolled out by the NHAI for faster traffic movement and safer cash transfers. In the days to come, it will give a big boost to the freight movement through highways in the country, NHAI officials said.