Oct 27, 2018

To

Joint Secretary, Transport,

Ministry of Road Transport & Highways

Copy To

Members of Board of Payments & Settlements, CGM DPSS,

Reserve Bank of India.

Subject : Regarding Mandatory FASTag - Feedback on Motor Vehicles(All India Tourist Vehicles Authorisation and Permit) Rules, 2018.

Dear Sir / Madam,

This is feedback on proposed Motor  Vehicles  (All  India  Tourist  Vehicles  Authorisation  and  Permit) Rules, 2018. [1]. I would like to put forth comments related to clause 16(1) related to mandatory installation of FASTag. (Copying Board for Regulation and Supervision of Payment and Settlement Systems (BPSS), RBI and DGM, DPSS, RBI as regulation and supervision of payments systems are under RBI)

FASTag is a private toll collection platform operated by a private settlements company National Payments Corporation of India.

  1. User Experience :-  There has been 0 transparency in operations of FASTag (wrt failures, delays) and highway travellers are increasingly put to inconvenience each passing day due to various operational issues related to FASTag like availability, recharge failures, double charging at tolls, no availability of return discounts, non availability / non functioning RFID gates. There has not been significant systemic response either from MoRTH or NHAI or NPCI in improving the user experience after having FASTag installed. As there is no competition the incentive to improve the systems is lacking with providers.
  2. Cost :- It is also important to note that FASTag has a high processing fees, as high as 3% [2], and furthering FASTag could lead to increase in toll charges as concessionaires are likely to recover the same from highway users. The choice of mode of payment for the toll must be that of the user and rules demanding mandatory installation of a private product for the profit of banks is highly objectionable.
  3. Privacy :- FASTag also allows technically covert monitoring of vehicles which is a violation of privacy, which has been declared as fundamental right by the Supreme Court. In the absence of a law that passes tests laid out by Puttaswamy judgement (legitimate state aim, least intrusive,  proportionality and a backing by law), it could be illegal to mandate privacy infringing tools without backing of law.
  4. Data Centralization :- FASTag also enables centralization of all toll traffic data throughout the country from payments. This aides the operators of the NETC / FASTag system to gather data on vehicular traffic in highway stretches, monitor traffic volumes & revenue of them. Even as the government is auctioning highways, availability of this data in centralized form the hands of a private company (NPCI) poses great risk to state’s economic interest, as such data could possibly affect bidding interest in monetization of public funded national highway projects, as approved by CCEA[3]. It is important for MoRTH and RBI (payments regulator) to revisit the implementation details of the 2011 Report of the Experts Committee on Electronic Toll Collection (ETC)[4], analyse, review the operations of NETC. Public consultations with all stakeholders must be organized on the merits and risks related to implementation difficulties, cost, privacy, data centralization, operational control with private monopoly entity before furthering the same to protect the interests of citizens as well as the state.

It is for these above state reasons, I object any furtherance of mandatory FASTag and request you to drop 16(1) from the Motor  Vehicles  (All  India  Tourist  Vehicles  Authorisation  and  Permit) Rules, 2018. Thank you.

Regards,

Srikanth L

Cashless Consumer

https://www.cashlessconsumer.in

References:

[1] Draft Notification : http://morth.nic.in/showfile.asp?lid=3346

[2] With 3% MDR, electronic toll collection lucrative biz for banks: NPCI CEO AP Hota https://www.financialexpress.com/money/with-3-mdr-electronic-toll-collection-lucrative-biz-for-banks-npci-ceo-ap-hota/777843/

[3] Cabinet authorized National Highways Authority of India to monetize public funded national highway projects http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=148306

[4] Report by Apex Committee for ETC Implementation http://www.ihmcl.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/ETC_Apex-Committee-Report-Final.pdf