February 16, 2021 10:26:52 pm
On the first day of the mandatory FASTag regime on Tuesday, confusion prevailed at several toll plazas on the highways connecting Pune with other cities. Traffic was reported to have slowed down near the toll plazas on Pune-Satara, Pune-Nashik and Pune-Solapur Highway.
Technical glitches in reading of FASTags or loading of money slowed down toll collection. At several places, motorists refused to pay the hefty fine – double the toll amount – in case they did not have FASTags installed.
However, traffic remained manageable and no serious snarl was reported on any of the highways on Tuesday, highway authorities said.
The Union Ministry of Road Transportation and Highways announced that the Radio Frequency Identification tag, which facilitates electronic payment of fees at toll plazas, will be made mandatory from Monday midnight and vehicles without FASTag will have to pay twice the toll amount. Union Minister Nitin Gadkari had said last week that the deadline for implementation of FASTag will not be extended and vehicle owners should immediately buy the e-payment facility.
“We spent 30 minutes in the queue at Khed Shivapur toll plaza. A lot of people were arguing with the plaza staff and there also seemed to be some technical glitches,” said Arvind Gaikar, who was travelling from Kolhapur to Pune with his family.
Sanjay Jadhav, Superintendent of Police for Highways, said traffic was “largely smooth” and in case of slower traffic, queues were “not longer than half a kilometre”.
“I did not receive any reports of long queues at any of the toll plazas in my jurisdiction. At some plazas, queue were seen as the toll plazas were not fining those who have not installed FASTags. But those queues were not very long. Only one incident of chaos was reported from Kini Toll Plaza on Pune -Bangalore Highway where an FIR has been lodged,” said Jadhav.
Amit Bhatia, manager of revenue and operations at the firm managing the Khed Shivapur toll plaza, said, “In the morning and through the afternoon, collection was smooth as people were aware that they would have to pay double the penalty if they did not have FASTag. But in the evening, there were some arguments with motorists. Some were trying to buy FASTags after entering the lane at the toll plaza. It wasn’t possible for us to process such a request,” said Bhatia.
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“FASTag sales are going up. Till day before yesterday, we sold an average of 100-125 FASTags in a day. This had risen to 600 yesterday. Today, it was more than 350…” said Bhatia.
“I anticipate that many will face problems… In the past few days due to mobile network issues, people were getting late deduction messages. Sometimes, people are recharging before entering the toll plaza and they are expecting it to be done by that time. In certain cases, it takes 15-20 minutes to get the account balance updated,” said Bhatia.
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