Buses, minibuses and taxis registered till 2018 must have location-tracking devices fitted on them by March 2023, a notification issued by the transport department says.
Similar vehicles registered in 2019 or later must have such a device installed on them immediately, says the notification issued on Monday.
The device must have an emergency button for passengers to press when in trouble to draw the attention of the authorities, the notification says.
The permits and fitness certificates of the vehicles without the device will not be renewed.
This is not the first time such a deadline has been set, though.
The West Bengal government has been trying to implement the system of installing vehicle-tracking devices with emergency buttons for some time.
Last November, the state government had set a July 2022 deadline as part of a passenger security programme under the “Nirbhaya framework”.
The transport department, however, missed the deadline as it took time to set up command and control centres at different places, including Asansol, Siliguri, Malda and Kolkata, where the exact location of vehicles can be tracked on screens in the presence of police.
Close to 19 lakh commercial vehicles, including buses, minibuses and taxis, will be brought under the surveillance project, transport department officials said on Tuesday.
A vehicle tracking system allows tracking of vehicles on a computer or a smartphone with the help of satellites.
Vehicle-tracking systems enable the authorities to track the speed of vehicles, their routes, the points where they stop and idling time, officials of the transport department said.
“... the vehicles shall be equipped with or fitted with vehicle location tracking device and one or more emergency buttons at conspicuous position in public interest...,” says the notification that was issued by Binod Kumar, principal secretary of the transport department.
The notification says it will come into “immediate effect”.
“For transport vehicles registered till 2018, we have specified a period — from December 1 to March 31, 2023 — for the owners to install vehicle-tracking devices. Those registered from 2019 must have the device installed immediately,” said a senior official of the transport department.
“Inspectors conducting fitness tests and renewing permits will check for the device and the emergency button.”
In 2016, the Union ministry of road, transport and highways had made it mandatory for all “public service vehicles” to have location-tracking devices and emergency buttons from April 2018.
The guideline said each bus should have a minimum of two cameras — one near the driver's seat and the other in the middle — to capture passengers’ movement.
Most states have dragged feet on the project. Among the few that have implemented the system are Kerala, Goa and Uttarakhand.