Transparency in emission tests: state sits on SC order

The transport department had finalised a tender for standardisation of emission testing centres, including the linking of data with Vahan database. DH File Photo

Karnataka may brag about its achievements in the IT sector. But when it comes to efficient use of technology to provide convenience to citizens the state ranks among the worst, thanks to its contentious move to spend crores of rupees on a private firm, instead of utilising the existing infrastructure.

Data from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH) shows that the state government has continued to violate the August 2017 Supreme Court order to link pollution under control (PUC) certificates with the Union government’s ‘Vahan’ database and
Digilocker app.

In June 2018, the Morth issued a gazette notification setting deadlines for the state governments to link the emission test results data to the Vahan database, a measure to improve transparency. Except for National Capital Region of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, all states were given time till April 1 to implement the same.

The issue has gained importance in the wake of steep penalties for failing to produce the PUC certificates. More than an year after telling citizens to use ‘Digilocker’, an app where users can pull out digital certificates for verification with authorities, the non-availability of the PUC certificates has continued to be a major hurdle.

The Centre has sent repeated reminders to the state government since June 2018, asking the authorities to follow the apex court order and send a progress report. The reminder dated September 23 notes, “It is important that the information should be available to citizens in electronic form, to avoid harassment and inconvenience,” it says.

There are 1,153 emission test centres (ETC) across Karnataka and it was expected that the state would be the first to catch up with the technological progress. In comparison, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Maharashtra and Haryana lead the states that have linked the ETCs with the central database.

Asked about the delay, Additional Commissioner of Transport (e-governance and environment) Shivraj Patil said the department had finalised a tender for standardisation of ETCs, including the linking of data with Vahan. “The file has been sent for the government for approval,” he said.

However, sources in the government said the tender finalised during the JD(S)-Congress regime was mired in controversy. “The department had fixed some technical requirements which were aimed at excluding all the players in the market in favour of one company,” he said, adding that several groups have urged the BJP-led government to quash the tender.

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