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Atul Mathur, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, January 22, 2011
After spending a fortune on the 2010 Games, a cash-strapped Delhi is now looking for new ways to refill its coffers. And it has found inspiration from Haryana and Punjab. The Capital’s transport department wants to auction VIP car numbers to pull in some cash. And, like Haryana and Punjab, it means serious money.

A single car registration number — CH 01 AC 0001 — went for Rs. 10 lakh in May last year in Chandigarh. The car it adorned cost Rs. 20 lakh.  In 2009-2010, Haryana’s transport department earned Rs. 4.50 crore by selling these numbers. This has now inspired Delhi government as well and an existing plan — earlier shot down — has been dusted and proposed again.

VIP numbers are seen in Delhi as status symbol tags. Right now, single digit numbers (0001 to 100) are allotted only for official vehicles of ministers, MPs, MLAs, bureaucrats and judges or private vehicles registered in their names, other fancy numbers like double-digit numbers (0010-0099), numbers that finish with two or three zeros (100-900 and 1,000-9,000) and same digit numbers (111-999 and 1111-9999) are issued to individuals on recommendation of ministers or civil servants.

“Since a large number of people queue up at our office for such fancy numbers — for numerological reasons or otherwise — we are now working on a proposal to put a price tag on these numbers,” a senior transport department official said, requesting anonymity.