|People stand in a queue at the block office near Gandhi Maidan and (above) a commotion-free district transport office at Biscomaun Tower in Patna on Friday.
Pictures by Nagendra Kumar Singh
Raids have relieved residents of the capital of the tout “service”, at least for the time being.
The district transport office and the Patna block office were free from touts on Friday, a day after the district administration conducted raids to nab those making money on the pretext of providing quick service to people. They claimed to hasten the delivery, supposed to be provided by the government offices within a stipulated time after Right To Public Service (RTPS) Act came into effect a year ago, in exchange of money.
Residents were happy that they were free from the clutches of the touts.
Ajay Kumar, 28, a resident of Chiriyatar, who applied for caste and residence certificates did not find any tout at the block office near Gandhi Maidan. Though he is yet to receive the certificate, he was happy not to see the middlemen.
“When I visited here last week, three touts promised me the required certificate today (Friday). But I cannot find any of those people now. I do not know where they have disappeared. Just as the administration has made this office tout-free, they should try and speed up the service delivery. It will make our life more comfortable,” said Ajay, adding that he had paid Rs 100 to the touts to get his work done.
Prior to Thursday’s raid, touts had access to the office where officials sit. But on Friday, only employees of the two offices and the applicants were present on the premises. People standing in the queue said they felt “peaceful” with the change.
Sukrit Kumar, 32, a resident of Mandiri who applied for caste certificates for his children, said: “It is a very good step taken by the district administration. I hope this is not a temporary change and things would continue the same way even in the future. I hope the touts do not become active after a few days. They had made things difficult for us. We had to spend a lot of money to get our work done. Those sitting inside the office should also be penalised because without their help touts could not have become a part of the system.”
The scenario at the district transport office (DTO) on the premises of Biscomaun Tower was the same. Touts used to charge Rs 400 for a geared two-wheeler driving licence and Rs 300 for other documents such as caste certificate, income certificate and pension certificate among others. People are required to shell out Rs 140 for a geared two-wheeler driving licence and Rs 10 for other certificates.
Even policemen have been deputed outside the gate of the DTO to stop the access of unauthorised people. Earlier, they used to be present only during certain times of the day.
During raids conducted at all the 23 blocks across Patna, 12 touts were arrested, including four from the DTO office.
District magistrate Sanjay Kumar Singh said: “It was important to catch people who were involved in such illegal activities. The district administration will not tolerate such things as far as smooth functioning of the RTPS Act is concerned. We will keep conducting surprise raids in the coming days as well.”