Will scrapping of RTOs curb corruption?

Dalals or middlemen are ubiquitous entities in almost all Indian public dealing departments, but they have a special role in transport offices where no work gets done without their aid and, dealings take place openly.

To arrest this age-old tradition which has worked in favour of both transport personnel and middlemen, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari has now proposed a partial closing down of Regional Transport Offices or RTOs.

RTOs are responsible for a gamut of functions in relation with transportation, including conducting driving tests, issuing licences, checking for the age and fitness of vehicles and issuing certificates, renewal of licences in case of repeated traffic violations and cancellation etc.

A host of these functions, as per the Ministers, will now be transferred online and only the handful which require physical dealing will now be taken up at RTOs. Though motorists, long harassed at RTOs, are happy with this move, not all activists are convinced that it will put an end to corruption in the transport department.

Pulkit Sharma, an IT executive, says, “The last time I went to an RTO office for renewal of my licence, I had to make rounds on at least three days. Yet, I couldn’t meet any official. Lastly, I had to give money to a tout to help me. I am sure this move by the Government will give us some relief.”

Vipin Kumar adds to this, “In Delhi RTOs, work at least gets done with the help of touts. Rates are fixed and the touts take guarantee for your job to be completed. If you travel to other states, if a tout doesn’t like your face, he’ll ask you for more money and then vanish.”

RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agarwal is not very optimistic about the move, “Fra­nkly, I am not sure if this will help. A lot of things have already been transferred online and some other tasks like driving tests, pollution tests etc will need face to face dealing. How will you stop corruption from taking place?”

“The major chunk of brib­ery, in fact, takes place at toll booths, especially on highways. Why doesn’t the Government do something about this?”  

Lawyer and activist Ashok Agarwal concurs, “What is required is accountability and punishment. Otherwise, people will find a way to make money from online also.” 

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