Vijay C Roy
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, December 15
Amid confusion among commuters, the national highways across Punjab allowed vehicles without tags to enter the FASTag-only lanes and didn’t charge double toll tax on the first day of its implementation. There are 19 toll plazas in the state.
The highway operators said they had taken the decision to avoid chaos as people were under the impression that the new rules would come into effect from December 16.
While the government, in a notification, has given relief to the commuters for the next one month (till January 15) to procure tags in view of its scarcity, it is silent on charges. As a result, commuters could be charged double the toll if they passed through FASTag lanes from Monday.
“People entering FASTag-only lanes started arguing, saying the operators could only levy the double toll from tomorrow, not today. So, we let them through to avoid any unsavoury situation,” said a senior executive at the Dappar toll plaza.
According to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways guidelines, FASTag was made mandatory for all vehicles, private or commercial, from December 15. However, commuters who did not have the tag were supposed to be charged double the toll if they used FASTag-only lanes.
Toll operators maintained people entering the FASTag-only lanes and who were willing to pay double the toll might be charged accordingly from tomorrow. “We will assess the law and order situation, depending upon which we will decide on levying double toll,” said another executive.
Meanwhile, the ministry has asked the National Highways Authority of India to increase the number of toll lanes where cash payment would be accepted till January 15, provided the number isn’t more than one-fourth the total toll counters.
Earlier, the ministry had said vehicles without tags won’t be allowed to enter the FASTag lanes and there would be only one lane on each side for accepting cash.
However, due to shortage of FASTag, the ministry eased the norm and said at least 75% of lanes at toll plazas on national highways must have electronic toll collection.
The government had initially said no vehicle would be allowed to pass through toll plazas without a FASTag from December 1. Later, it said there would be one ‘hybrid’ lane at every toll plaza where cash payment would also be accepted.
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