It’s a classic case of keeping on buying bullets, year after year, but not even having a gun.
Over 12,000 smart cards are issued every month for driving licences (DLs) and vehicle registration certificates (RCs) in Chandigarh, at `200 apiece besides other fees. But the much-touted e-project of registration and fining by the transport department and police is proving to be of little purpose, particularly on the key count of law and order.
Reason: There are no data readers or feeders available with the cops and other departments for real-time checking or updating the drivers’ or vehicles’ past record.
The system is in its sixth year, and people have paid over `17 crore already. In its current form, set in motion in 2009, the programme that collects around `24 lakh a month from the applicants is reduced to a matter of sarkari lethargy.
The cards, though an advanced idea, carry only the basic details of the driver or vehicle entered at the time of issuance. Thereafter, cops and other authorities cannot check anything about the past record. Nor can anything be entered into their microchips about challans. The devices are just not there.
At the time of challans, details are put up in the regular system manually against the DL or RC number at the Traffic Lines. Papers are attached about the past record on a case-by-case basis, so that repeat offenders can be fined accordingly. Despite modern microchips and smart cards, the age-old system continues.
When contacted, transport secretary Bhawna Garg only said the police had to buy the equipment as it was “their domain”, not of the department or the Registering and Licensing Authority (RLA).
The issue was flagged also at Monday’s meeting of the UT Road Safety Council under the chairmanship of the UT adviser.
DSP (traffic) Pawan Kumar, who attended the meeting, only said, “We are working on the issue. Tenders would shortly be issued for the devices.”
Manmohan Luthra, an activist and former district transport officer from Punjab, said, “This is a classic case of how a well-meaning scheme can be reduced to a farce.”
Sources said the police so far did not even have the software in place for entering or reading the card data. Readers/feeders cost upwards of `20,000 apiece, but the cost would go much higher depending on how advanced a version was bought.
The smart cards in previous avatars were actually started way back at the turn of the century, as a security measure.
Advanced versions came later, increasing the data capacity of its microchip and adding features. Most recently, upgraded high-security cards were started last year.
While earlier the cards were made by the Society for Promotion of IT in Chandigarh (SPIC) under the aegis of the Union government, the job was given to the National Informatics Center Services Incorporated (NICSI).