People crowd the DTO office in Kutchery, Ranchi, on Thursday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Ranchi district transport officer (DTO) Nagendra Paswan on Thursday ordered applications for driving licence, vehicle registration and the like would not move without physical verification of the candidate.
This order comes a day after Ranchi Sadar SDO Bhor Singh Yadav held surprise check at Ranchi district transport office at the district collectorate in Kutchery to detain two touts with a bundle of applications belonging to other people. Touts Ranjeet and Krishna Kumar were handed over to Kotwali police.
The DTO is also learnt to have issued a circular to staff to not to entertain middlemen and touts or face departmental action.
"Employees are there to assist people and we process any application within a timeframe of seven to 45 days depending upon the nature of the application. This is covered under Right to Guarantee of Service Act of Jharkhand government. We have also issued a helpline in case people face any problem. Now you can also file applications online. I don't know why people should take help from a tout or unauthorised person and pay extra money to get their work done. I have strictly forbidden unauthorised persons," said DTO Paswan.
An estimated 600 people visit the district transport office every day seeking new licence or renewal, vehicle registration, transfer of vehicle ownership, road tax deposits, among others.
Officially, the district transport office charges Rs 520 for temporary driving licence, Rs 1,050 for a permanent one, Rs 400 for ownership transfer, Rs 690 temporary registration, 3 per cent of the vehicle's invoice for a permanent one, among others. If touts enter the picture, rates inflate. Though the fees demanded by touts are "negotiable", they can go up to Rs 1,500 for, say, a driving licence. Allegedly, cuts are offered to transport staff too.
On Thursday, however, apart from the six CCTV cameras keeping surveillance on the office, two policemen also kept tabs on the stream of visitors. Two employees managing the help desk told visitors the status of their applications concerned or directed them to desks.
When a man in his 40s referred to political connections and insisted his work got done instantly without verification, he was snubbed. "Just to please you I can't afford losing my job. You don't have proper authorisation," this reporter heard a staffer telling the man.
For genuine applicants such as Sanjay Sahay, a physics teachers at Surendranath Centenary School in Ranchi, the transport office offered "a soothing experience" on Thursday. Sahay, who submitted his application for a duplicate licence and vehicle registration, said all his earlier nervousness about touts vanished when he visited the office.
"A staffer helped me fill up application forms and gave me receiving slips for the same. My work was done in half an hour," he said.
Will touts make a comeback to the transport office? Tell [email protected]