The Telegraph
Thursday , December 1 , 2011
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tech trick to tweak transport laws
- Jugaad innovation paves way for transporters to dodge Motor Vehicles Act

Motihari, Nov. 30: Human ingenuity can sometimes make law enforcers helpless. Officials of the transport department posted in East Champaran district seem to have realised this.

These officials have been forced to be mute spectators to vehicles plying without registration numbers and those behind the wheels sans driving licences.

Most would presume that in the hinterland of Bihar (East Champaran being 160km north of Patna), the helplessness of the law enforcers has something to do with the influence of those violating it. But the reason is different.

It is jugaad (assembling) technology that has stumped the transport department officials.

Thanks to the technology, engines of varying power are being fitted into three and four-wheeled bodies and are being used to transport goods. The four-wheelers, fitted with 1,400cc engines of mini-tractors, have been given the name Maruta and the three-wheeled ones, having a power of 450cc Chinese engines, are called Auto Thelas.

Maruta’s body is made of wood and iron and it is assembled in Punjab. From there, it is sent to different places with each body priced between Rs 90,000 and Rs 1.5 lakh. An Auto Thela body is assembled in Samastipur and costs between Rs 40,000 and Rs 50,000.

These Marutas and Auto Thelas are visible almost everywhere in the district, be it the district headquarters, Motihari, or other places. These jugaad vehicles can attain a maximum speed of 60km per hour. None of these Marutas or Auto Thelas carry any registration number. Those driving these vehicles do not carry any driving licence either.

According to rules, any vehicle running on a 50cc engine or more has to be registered with the office of the district transport officer (DTO). “According to the Motor Vehicles Act, registration of only those vehicles is allowed which are manufactured by any registered company. The Marutas and Auto Thelas don’t fall under this category, hence we cannot take any action even though these vehicles do not have any registration number,” East Champaran DTO Dinesh Kumar Rai said when asked why no action is taken against such vehicle owners.

But those using the vehicles are more than happy. “I earn a livelihood by transporting goods on my Maruta. I do not have to bother about documents,” said Saddam Hussain, a Maruta owner from Areraj.