Arrest of ‘billionare’ transport office points to deep-rooted scam allowing overloaded trucks
The ARTO and others involved in the crime used fake SIMs to make calls/send SMS among themselves. The examination of the conversation showed that the eatery owner and others used to collect money from overloaded trucks and provided code words for each truck to the ARTO who would not check the vehicles after the driver mentioned the token.lucknow Updated: Jun 12, 2017 17:14 IST
The arrest of “billionaire” transport officer RS Yadav by Jaunpur Police has once again brought to the fore the involvement of officials and transporters who connive to allow overloaded trucks to ply on the roads in Uttar Pradesh.
Yadav, an assistant regional transport officer (ARTO) at Chandauli, was booked on Saturday after the arrest of his driver and an aide, who were caught extorting truck drivers allegedly at the officer’s behest.
Officials said a diary recovered from Yadav’s vehicle contained registration numbers of 9000 trucks, which indicated he used to distribute tokens or a secret code to truckers to pave way for safe passage to overloaded vehicles.
- In its initial probe, the enforcement directorate has come across important information related to possession of property worth crores of rupees by ARTO RS Yadav.
- Sources said the ED had found Yadav owned a hotel in Varanasi, a shopping/housing complex and half a dozen plots at various places, apart from a few high-end Volvo buses.
- He is already being referred to as the “Yadav Singh of Purvanchal” for the huge property that he has amassed during his two-decade career in the transport department.
This is, however, not the first time that an ARTO has been nabbed on such a charge. Specialised agencies such as the special task force (STF) and the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) have gathered evidence from time to time that suggested a deep-rooted scam being run by the RTOs and ARTOs and transporters and traders.
An ARTO, who is now posted at the transport commissioner’s office in Lucknow, was nabbed by the STF three years ago for running a similar scam in Sonbhadra. No action was taken against him though the then transport commissioner Rajnish Gupta recommended his suspension and sent several reminders to the state government.
STF’s additional director general Mukul Goyal got a probe conducted against the ARTO (administration and enforcement) after the then transport commissioner requested for it.
During the probe, the STF intercepted calls and text messages between the ARTO and a roadside eatery owner and other private agents. The calls showed that the eatery owner and others used to collect money from overloaded trucks and provided code words for each truck to the ARTO, who would not check the vehicles after the driver mentioned the token.
The ARTO and others involved in the crime used fake SIMs to make calls or send text messages among themselves.
Sources said such activities were carried out in many districts in the state. “In its inquiry in 2008-09, EoW had confirmed that overloading of trucks was thriving in the state in connivance with RTOs/ARTOs and private agents,” they said.
According to sources, the EoW report revealed that when trucks drivers were stopped for checking, they uttered a secret code word such as “Sai Kripa” and “Hari Kripa” to the checking staff to get a safe passage. The agency, however, failed to pinpoint the involvement of RTOs or ARTOs.
Sources said overloading of trucks in the state was getting political patronage especially in mine-rich districts of the Bundelkhand region. Authorities, they pointed out, find it difficult to check plying of trucks overloaded with building material as politicians are directly or indirectly involved in mining contracts.
Two years ago, two trucks loaded with coarse sand belonging to a minister in the Samajwadi Party government were seized in random checking in Mahoba. Sources said the minister made desperate calls to higher authorities but it was too late by then as the matter had been recorded in black and white.
“As the racket was often patronised by politicians under the previous governments, action was hardly taken against any RTO/ARTO,” president of All-India Transport Trust Jagdish Chandra Gupta said.
“Though overloading of trucks has been under some check, corrupt RTOs and ARTOs are still not desisting from extorting truckers,” he said.
In its initial probe, the enforcement directorate came across important information related to possession of property worth crores of rupees by ARTO Yadav. Sources said the ED found Yadav owned a hotel in Varanasi, a shopping-housing complex and half a dozen plots at various places, apart from a few high-end Volvo buses.
He is already being referred to as the “Yadav Singh of Purvanchal” for the huge property that he has amassed during his two-decade career in the transport department.