With special efforts from the authorities, the office of chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, who also holds the transport portfolio, has procured a VIP registration number — MH 01 BK 999 — for his new car.
“The number requested by the chief minister’s office was already allotted to some other government vehicle. As the number was not available even in the private vehicle series, a new series had to be opened,” said a source.
Chavan’s existing car too has 999 as the registration number.
According to the rulebook, a new series can be opened only for allotting the number 0001, after seeking permission from the transport commissioner. The fee charged for starting a new series is three times more than the normal fees.
Confirming the development, transport commissioner VN More said, “The VIP number was allotted in accordance with the legal provisions. A government vehicle can get a VIP registration number from a closed series too. The department doesn’t charge fees from government vehicles.”
RTO officials claim that despite a fee of Rs. 1,00,000, the demand for VIP number 1 is very high. VIP numbers such as 9, 99, 999, 9999 and 786 too are in demand, for which the buyer has to shell out Rs. 50,000.
Several politicians including Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray and industries minister Narayan Rane have procured registration number in the 9 series for their vehicles.
“The number 9 is a favourite among politicians from western Maharashtra. On several occasions, people are willing to spend lakhs for the number at the auction, which is held if more than one person applies for the number,” said a transport official, requesting anonymity.