The Gujarat government on Thursday announced that it would abolish Regional Transport Office (RTO) checkposts in the state from November 20 and issue learners’ driving licences at industrial training institutes (ITIs) and polytecnic colleges from November 15.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said the abolition of checkposts was aimed at ease of doing business, reducing traffic congestion and curbing corruption, while replacing the tax and exemption fees collection from transporters through an online system. The CM said that Gujarat would probably be the first state to launch such a system.
The move to issue learners’ licences from ITIs and polytechnic colleges was to ease the backlog at 36 regional transport offices (RTOs) in the state, he said.
Gujarat has 16 checkposts at its borders with Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Mahrashtra where the RTO officials collect the taxes and exemption fees manually. Annually, the RTO checkposts earn around Rs 300 crore.
Rupani said, “Around 90 lakh big vehicles enter Gujarat every year. If one vehicle stops for five minutes, imagine the long queue it would create and the system also has to be on the job. So, from today we are declaring its (the manual checking at checkposts) abolition. Everything will be done online. The checkposts staff will be deployed at enforcement in the state.”
He added that the checkpost system will be abolished from November 20 and everything will be done online by the vehicle owners through prior self declaration and online payment.
Rupani also said that the option of offline payment of taxes and exemption fees will be available to the transporters in case they can’t do online payment. In such a case, they will have to make the payment at the nearest RTO. Generally, Rupani said, the checkposts were collecting taxes and exemption fees for overloading and over-dimension cargo.
Rupani also said that the Gujarat government officials had held a series of meetings with transporters before putting the online system in place. He added that meetings were also held with transporters in eight states as well. The CM said that the initiative is aimed at simplifying the process and there will be rare chance of corruption in it.
A release from the state government stated that as an alternative to checkposts, the government is putting faith on vehicle owners and transporters. During checking, if a vehicle is found to have violated the rules, the owner will be charged double the actual amount of the tax or fees he/she was supposed to pay while entering the state.
Principal Secretary, Port & Transport Department, Sunaina Tomar, said that the staff of the RTO department will be deployed for enforcement of rules in the state. She said that enforcement teams will be formed to check the adherence to RTO rules by vehicles that enter the state from outside.
The RTO officials will be given hand-held devices along with body cameras while on duty to check RTO rule violations. Tomar said that 350 hand-held devices have been bought and the department is in process to buy 35 GPS-enabled interceptors. Vehicles of the staff, to be put on duty, will be tracked through GPS from a Command & Control Centre. Also, she added, the payment of the fine will be online.
To get a learner’s driving licence, an applicant needs to register online, make the payment and appear for a test about traffic rules and regulations. “Since this is an online test, we have decided to make use of the infrastructure at ITIs and polytechnic colleges,” he said.
The state government has identified 221 ITIs and 29 polytechnic colleges in different parts of state where online tests to get learner’s licence will be conducted and licences will be issued, Rupani said.
Every year, around 20 lakh people visit RTOs to get their learner’s licence and many have to wait for almost a month to their appointment. The new arrangement will ease the burden on RTOs and speed up the process, the chief minister said.
As per a government release, learner’s licences would be issued at ITIs from November 15, while the system would be operational in 29 polytechnics from November 25 onwards.