A day after Hindustan Times exposed the tout-officer nexus at the transport department’s zonal offices, nothing had changed on the ground. It was business as usual for touts and staff at the transport authority (as these zonal offices are referred to). Touts were busy striking deals with gullible applicants. Typists and agents of ‘notary public’ were seen attesting copies of documents needed for learners’ and permanent licences. Missing documents were being illegally arranged.
At Sarai Kale Khan, a tout approached HT reporters the moment they stepped out of the car. He quoted Rs 2,000 for the learner’s and permanent licence. The deal was finally struck at Rs 1,800. "Give me the money and papers fast. A lot of people come here and the queues get really long. Give me Rs1,100 now and the remaining when you come back for a permanent licence a month later," said a tout who identified himself as Sanjay. When the reporters talked about the expose in this newspaper on Tuesday, the tout did not look worried. "Such stories keep appearing in newspapers. The work does not stop," he said.
In a corner, another tout, surrounded by five men, was busy talking to an employee of the transport authority. The five men worked as drivers in a transport company. “Please get the work done quickly. All of them have to go on inter-state duty,” he was seen telling the staff.
The scene was no different inside the authority. Amid a long queue of applicants, a couple of men were seen hopping from counter to counter, getting the papers verified and signed with the actual applicants in tow. The touts could access areas out of bounds for the general public.
While the ordinary applicants spent more than an hour to complete the formalities and another couple of hours for the learner’s licence, the touts managed to get the licence in just about 30 minutes.According to a transport department official, who has worked at zonal transport offices, certain employees make sure that at least 75 per cent licences are issued through touts. "Some of the senior officers posted in the authority offices pay huge money to get those seats. They have to recover the money," the official said.