The window to get all transport vehicles fitted with tracking devices and emergency buttons opens on December 1.
The day before, many vehicle owners said such devices were unavailable.
Throughout much of Wednesday, officials at all regional transport offices (RTOs) appeared clueless about where the tracking devices would be available.
Several officials admitted that the government should have been ready with a list of providers who could install the tracking devices and emergency buttons.
On Wednesday evening, the transport department released a list of 10 device manufacturers for West Bengal. “The 10 have been selected after scanning their applications and ensuring that they conform to the specifications laid down by the Union ministry of road transport and highways,” a transport department official said.
“The names of other manufacturers of tracking devices fitted with emergency buttons will be published later. Vehicle owners will then have more options.”
Senior officials said those turning up with their vehicles for fitness tests on Thursday would be given enough time to install the gadgets and the emergency buttons.
The state government had on November 14 said all vehicles that had been registered in 2018 or before would have to install the tracking devices and the buttons, without which their permits would not be renewed and they would not be subjected to the mandatory fitness test.
“We have assumed that the vehicles registered after 2018 have in-built tracking devices,” said a transport department official.
Close to 19 lakh passenger vehicles — buses, minibuses and taxis — will be brought under the surveillance project, transport department officials said.
The November 14 order said that the tracking devices and the emergency buttons would have to be installed between December 1 and March 31.
Many vehicle owners said the window was too short and that many of them were not ready to shell out Rs 10,000 — the minimum price of such a device fitted with the emergency button — while recovering from the pandemic-induced losses.
“We had appealed to the minister concerned for an extension of the period but the transport department has not bothered to engage with us,” said Rahul Chatterjee, general secretary of the All Bengal Bus Minibus Samannay Samity.
The West Bengal government has been trying to implement the system on vehicles for some time now. In November 2021, the state government had said the devices would have to be installed by July as part of the passenger security programme under the “Nirbhaya framework”.
That, however, never happened with the transport department taking time to set up command and control centres at different places.
In 2016, the Union ministry of road, transport and highways had made it mandatory for all “public service vehicles” to install tracking devices and emergency buttons.