Sunday, August 24, 2014

Scrapping the RTO setup, and Protest by RTO Agents - An interesting Saga in the Making

This Saga been waiting for years to happen, and now its started. 
Finally someone realised that its time to Scrap or amend the Motor Vehicles Act 1988. The Union Minister makes a statement, and the protectorates under the MV Act start running for cover. This Act has spawned innumerable Corrupt Officers and their Handmaids/Manservant - Agents, who together run a parallel RTO setup in the country, though not in unison, but on similar lines.

Remember the KamalHasssan starring Movie "Indian" in Tamil, or "Hindustani" in Hindi??

The story runs on two tracks. One is that of Chandra Bose alias Chandru (Kamal Haasan), a small-time broker outside the RTO (Regional Transport Office) who gets people to high positions by accepting bribes. He is supported in this work by Subbiah (Goundamani). Paneerselvam (Senthil) plays an officer in the RTO who has conflicts with Subbiah. Aishwarya (Manisha Koirala) and Chandru are in love with each other. Sapna (Urmila Matondkar) is the daughter of Gandhikrishna, an officer in RTO. Her father promises to get Chandru a job of being a brake inspector in the RTO, if he runs errands for them. He agrees to work for them, and soon he becomes a brake inspector.
The other track is of Senapathy alias Indian (Kamal Haasan), a 70-year-old man who kills top government officials (like Commissioners of Corporation etc.) in an extreme attempt to weed out corruption from Indian soil.
Thats about the EXTANT of corruption in the Regional Transport (Authority) Offices in the Indian Soil.

Now for the news....
After axing the Planning Commission of India, it seems that the Narendra Modi government will soon scrap the Regional Transport Offices (RTO) and replace them with an alternative system in the coming months. 
Union Minister of road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari while delivering the JS Karandikar memorial lecture in Pune said that the central government was in the process of bringing in a law to scrap the outdated Regional Transport Offices (RTO). He said, "There are some outdated laws and systems which need to be scrapped. Systems like RTOs will soon be abolished; there is no need for RTOs. We have prepared a law which will be introduced soon to replace RTOs." 
At RTOs, corruption has become a way of life Corruption has become an everyday phenomenon in RTOs and this has led to the word 'bribe' being replaced with ‘service charge,' and further encouraging the back-door policies. 
The future plan - alternative for RTOs Revealing more about the future plan of scrapping RTOs, Gadkari said that a new system will be employed with the help of the traffic models in the UK and other countries to nab the traffic violators. 
Not only the RTO offices even the RTO officials create a lot of problems for the public. In January a non -government organization (NGO) based in Thane had alleged that at the border check posts, the number of heavy carriage vehicles are underreported which in turn caused multi-crore losses to the state exchequer. 
Unless the middlemen (the agents) are eliminated and more people are appointed, corruption cannot be weeded out from these RTOs. Thus, it seems this plan to scrap these Regional Transport Offices will be in country's favour. 

The Association of RTO Agents, a body with 300 members who offer their services to Mumbaikars inside and outside the Mumbai RTO office in Tardeo, has decided to protest if such a move comes into being.

Ilyas, the head of the RTO Association, said, "We serve Mumbaikars charging a nominal sum. We make sure people get relevant documents on time. If the Central government is planning to scrap RTOs, where will we go and what will happen to our business and our families? We will definitely protest against this decision, if it gets implemented."

Agents in Mumbai countered Gadkari's argument of outdated computerisation, saying it is nothing but a strategy to make money for RTO officials. 

At the Tardeo RTO office, Ramesh Patel has been running pillar to post to renew his licence. "For the last two months, I have been trying to renew my driving licence. You can see this receipt given to me two months back. But till today, no RTO official is willing to give me the renewed licence or even not ready to give me a new date. I wasted my entire day today, but no one has an answer."

When asked if he had gone through any agent, he replied, "Why should I? These agents will take a good amount from me for just renewing my old driving licence. Why are these RTO officials here?"

Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on said that the government will introduce the Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill in the next Parliament session.

“The Bill, being prepared in sync with practises in six advanced nations – USA, Canada, Singapore, Japan, Germany and the UK will be introduced in the next session of Parliament. This will overhaul the sector bringing to an end the corrupt practises in RTOs,” Gadkari said.

The Act has become obsolete in the present context and needs overhaul, he said, adding the new law is designed in a way that will provide permits online besides slapping fines on violators of traffic rules on the basis of recordings in camera.

“The new law will provide a corruption free and transparent system with a proper record of driving licenses. Data would be utilised in e-governance. International norms are there for vehicle design, pollution control on the basis of prevalent laws in six advanced nations – US, Canada, Singapore, Japan, Germany and UK, I have firm faith that the new law will end corrupt practises in RTOs through e-governance,” he said.

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