Only about 3,000 of the 19 lakh-odd registered vehicles in the state have got the tracking device, which comes with an emergency button, installed.
The low response has prompted the state government to explore ways to increase the coverage.
A vehicle tracking system allows tracking of vehicles with the help of satellites. “The gadget makes it possible to constantly record the speed of a vehicle and its route, along with idling time,” said a senior official of the transport department.
The state government has set March 31 as the deadline to complete the mandatory installation of the gadget. If a vehicle isn’t fitted with the device by the deadline, its permit and fitness certificate will not be renewed, according to a notification issued by the state transport department a few days ago.
As the installation of the device is not gaining traction, senior officials of the transport department have decided to meet new dealers in February. “We want to select more dealers who are equipped to handle bulk orders,” a senior official said.
“Right now there are a dozen dealers of the vehicle tracking devices. We want to increase the number significantly so that more vehicle owners can buy the gadget closer home,” a transport department official said on Wednesday.
Of the 3,000-odd vehicles with the device, an overwhelming majority are new four-wheelers, figures with the state government reveal. Just about 30 per cent are old commercial vehicles and all of them are four-wheelers.
A negligible number of bus owners have installed vehicle location tracking devices, figures reveal. The government has set up a control room at Poddar Court near Lalbazar, where a joint team of police and transport department officials scans screens to track vehicles and respond immediately if there is an emergency. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee inaugurated the facility on January 9.
“No emergency panic button has been pressed since the control room was inaugurated by any of the users of commercial vehicles,” said a senior police officer. “The challenge will grow when more vehicles start using the gadget with the alarm button.”
More than the security aspect, bus owners are concerned about the cost of the gadget and its maintenance.
On Wednesday, at least three bus owners’ associations from Hooghly, Alipurduar and Siliguri wrote to the transport minister seeking an extension of the deadline because of certain opaqueness in the entire process. “We are not sure what exactly is the cost of the device. The one that the authorised dealers were selling cost around Rs 12,000, but cheaper ones are also available,” said Mirza.
Golam Mastafa, president of the Hooghly Express Bus Owners Association, said: “Itis still unclear whether the company will take care of the maintenance of the device and for what period of time.”