There is no doubt that the district tops the list in traffic violations as getting a driving licence in Ludhiana is as easy as learning ABC. Recently, district transport officer (DTO) Manpreet Singh Chhatwal issued 200 licences in a day in the absence of the motor vehicle inspector of Ludhiana, who is absconding since he was caught in the vigilance net.
Ignoring all the parameters to conduct the driving test, the DTO allegedly went ahead with the tests, which were just an "eyewash". It has been clearly mentioned in Rule no 15 of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, that the inspector of motor vehicles will conduct the test of competence to drive a vehicle as per the procedures.
After he is satisfied with the driving skills, he will pass his recommendations on the issuance of driving licence to the applicant. The assistant regional transport officer (RTO) after satisfaction will pass an order for the issuance of the driving licence.
According to the Motor Vehicle Act, to get a driving licence, the applicant has to learn the traffic rules and follow these when they actually start driving. The driving test has to be tough wherein the applicant's skills for reversing, turning and driving in different situations have to be tested. Apart from testing the driving skills, questions should be asked about traffic rules and signs, but the officials at DTO abstain from doing so.
Besides, the applicant giving the test has to drive on an eight-feet-wide road without touching the line and following all the rules. The DTO admitted that he took the driving test done, but the fact is that he is not qualified to supervise or conduct the driving test as per the Motor Vehicle Act.
Interestingly, none of the applicants have failed in the driving test, as the DTO did not disqualify anybody. The test results were 100%. Rajinder Singh, a resident of BRS Nagar, while sharing his experience said, "I was shocked when a rickshaw puller from a nearby locality told me that he had got the licence for driving a carrier vehicle, whereas he had no experience of driving."
According to Dr Kawaljit Soi, vice-chairman, Road Safety Council, Punjab said, "No wonder that is the reason we are losing 4,000 young people every year in road accidents in Punjab. These officials are not giving them the licence to drive but licence to kill." Dr Soi termed the DTO office, Ludhiana, as the den of corruption.
Questioning the honesty of MVI, who amassed massive wealth and property, Gurdeep Singh Randhawa, president, Citizen Welfare Council, wants to know about the people he testified for a driving licence and the old vehicles which were issued fitness certificate year after year and the reason behind keeping him on the same seat for six long years.
What DTO has to say
District transport officer Manpreet Singh Chhatwal said he had taken the driving test of the applicants for just one day. The new MVI has taken the charge and he has continued the stalled work. He claimed that the DTO possessed the authority to hold the test for a driving licence.