Getting a driving licence in Faridkot is a slow moving process. Caught in the bureaucratic red tape, applicants for new driving licences are demanding a cut in formalities they are supposed to fulfil at present.
Invisible backup, hours for photograph, nearly 50 people always ahead of you in queue, days of scurrying between desks-Phew. At the district transport office, formalities go on and on.
For a poor man, the grind means losing a day's wages. "I, a mason, have lost three workdays and a chance to earn at least Rs 1000," said Darshan Singh of Kauni, who travelled 25 kilometres to Faridkot. "In the past two days, the DTO was not in office." "I came on Tuesday to get officials to mark my application, but the DTO was unavailable," said Gurpreet Singh of Kabalwala village. "A day later, I have been in a queue for an hour, so far."
Harpreet Singh of Chandbaja village also has lost two days and an hour in the licence-application queue. "All the formalities done, all I now need is the signatures of the transport officer, and then I will have my photograph taken," he said. "Getting a learner's licence teaches you a lot about harassment," said Sunil Kumar of Faridkot. "Just too many formalities. For the past two house, I'm in a photograph queue."
People waiting at the DTO's office cursed the length of the process. "First you buy a file from the Suvidha Centre, fill the form, and attach a medical-fitness certificate," said Baldev Singh, a man in the queue. "Then you pay the fee at the DTO's office, and they mark a file which one takes to the Suvidha Centre to collect a token for a photograph for the licence, which will be shot again at the DTO's office."
The photography job is outsourced, and the company handling it is inefficient. People ask for a simpler process that takes less time. At about 12noon, there were more than 50 people in the photograph queue, jostling, fighting over turn. "The number of people who seek driving licence is near 100 a day," said Nacchater Singh Brar, subdivisional magistrate and DTO of Faridkot. "That's why people have to wait. I try my best to get the work done by 11am. I made the registration certificates available online."
The DTO denied that he was outside his office on Monday and Tuesday. "People can say what they like," he said, "but I issued nearly 100 licences each on the two days," he said. "Kal meri tarik si (Yesterday, I had to attend court)."
Deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat has agreed to look into the matter.