Should there not be a minimum qualification for issuing licences?
But, we cannot be too strict on the licensing issue. Here, people object if we insist on minimum qualification. But yes, when it comes to drunken driving, we are sure that till breath analysers are used on the drivers, they will not be given the vehicles. RSRTC has shown lowest accidents of drunken driving in the country. We had no casualty on the New Year Eve owing to the measures we have taken.
The government policies are normally formulated according to the manufacturers’ suggestions, claim the motor vehicle inspectors. Don’t you think the latter, who are the ones on the ground, must be consulted?
When we decided on opening the driving institutes, we went to Namakkal and verified the requirements ourselves. Then we floated tenders according to the suggestions given by technical experts who are related to our transport department.
Everybody knows that government job is very easy. Your department people say that once they meet their various targets, they do not have to bother about doing any other work. Should you not infuse more energy in the department?
When I joined the transport department, the target for fine collection was र1200 crore for one year. We have collected र1635 crore this year – र435 crore more than the target. This year our growth was nearly 25%. We could achieve it because we motivated our people to do it. This year the collection is more than र1800 crore. We don’t work only on the targets we are given. We motivate people from collecting agencies – RTOs, DTOs, inspectors – we give them bigger targets than the actual ones. However, we get only one or two percent as an incentive from the revenue department.
Vahan Sarathi provides total automation of Regional Transport Office (RTO) transactions comprising Fee and Tax, all stages of Registration, License, Permit and Enforcement through workflow based system.
You still have a shortage of staff…
Yes, we do. That is because people retire. CM has now given us the power that all the vacancies arising out of retirement of staff after April 1, 2010 can be filled. We will definitely be approaching the concerned departments for new recruitments now.
What about the shortage in infrastructure?
Infrastructure is not so deficient. When I had joined, we used to take vehicles on hire. Today I am happy that almost 75% of the hired vehicles have been replaced by our own vehicles. We have taken our own Boleros since our staff used to face problems in jeeps. Now, they feel safer. We have also started the ‘Vahan Sarathi’ programme. We have computerised the offices. Where we don’t have DTO offices, our Vahan Sarathi programme is on. It will be completed by 2012. We will soon be inaugurating the Jalore and Badmer DTOs. How will our staff give us revenue if we don’t provide infrastructure?
We have asked more money for our website, and for Jaipur’s Driving Licence Institute. The government has given र1.6 crore to develop facilities.
You have said that accidents per 1000 people have gone down in Rajasthan.
In Rajasthan in 2001, accidents per 1000 people were 1.66 and now despite the registration of vehicles crossing the number of 70 lakh, our rate has come down to 1.06 per 1000. This is all because of the serious measures we undertook.
Generally, work on road safety, traffic and transport development or management, is focused around metros and big cities. Countryside is often neglected.
I agree entirely. The reason is that after PMGSY (Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana) was implemented in Rajasthan, every person demanded public transport. And those who don’t get it, use any resource that is available to them – it could be tractors, jeeps or buses. These resources/mediums don’t take licences. Hence, they don’t work properly. To arrest this problem, we have begun focusing on villages. Now, in the budget, the Chief Minister has promised to connect panchayat with tehsil headquarters and tehsil headquarters with district headquarters in the next three years. Before that, we had started a novel exercise. Instead of condemning or selling our RSRTC (Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation) buses that are in a condition of being condemned, we began reconditioning them. Now, 200 reconditioned buses are good enough to run on short stretches of 50 to 60 km in villages, without any problem. We have handed them over to district headquarters and depots. The results have been good. 500 more such buses will be ready by March 2012. Every depot and district HQ will have at least 20 buses each. Then, there will be a break on the jeeps that run on short routes and illegal buses that are overloaded on these routes. Once this is implemented, I can claim with confidence that the rate of accidents in Rajasthan will fall drastically. So, we have begun diverting our attention to rural areas as well.
In the next three years, what promises can you and your department make on the improvement of the transport conditions in Rajasthan?
The first major effort will be the driving institutes. Once they begin functioning after a year, good drivers will become available. Once you get good drivers, there will not be any problem in the following of rules and regulations. According to last year’s figures, RSRTC has a fleet of 4500 buses for public transport. We have reduced their life span from 8 to 10 years to an average age of five years. That has resulted in reduction of diesel consumption and maintenance cost. So the traffic demand is properly met with. Now we are buying 1000 more buses.
Rajasthan Roadways is among the first State Corporations in the country to get four multi-excel Volvos for public use for the Jaipur-Delhi route. These buses have pantries with microwave ovens, LCD/Live TC channels on each seat (100 free channels), laptop charger, mobile charger, push button seats at 45 degrees, toilets (chemical laboratory), etc. The passengers can have beverages and snacks in the bus itself. Despite being a little expensive, they are extremely popular.
The unfortunate situation is that Delhi and Jaipur are now in the process of improving their roads which is causing some problems for the running of these buses. But as and when the roads will be ready, the distance of Delhi-Jaipur will be reduced to four hours with these buses. We have introduced online reservations and e-ticketing through RSRTC for these buses. We are planning that such Volvo buses should touch all District Headquarters of Rajasthan soon. They are B9R buses and pollution free. So, Rajasthan is much ahead in the area of road safety and good transport.