Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, February 16
The death of four schoolchildren in a freak accident in Longowal has brought the debate over vehicle fitness system in the state to the fore. The Transport Department doesn’t seem serious about the safety of vehicles as it has just four motor vehicle inspectors for examining three lakh vehicles every year.
As per the department’s data, around eight lakh new vehicles are registered in the state every year. Out of these, about 35,000 are buses, vans and autos, which are used for transportation purpose. Juxtapose this with the number of motor vehicle inspectors and the state of affairs become clearer.
As per norms, the age of a transport vehicle is 15 years. So 5,25,000 new vehicles (considering 35,000 are registered every year) will be registered over a period of 15 years. Since every old vehicle is inspected after every two years, 2,62,500 vehicles will be inspected every year. Add 35,000 new transport vehicles to this and the total number of vehicles which are inspected every year comes out to be around 3 lakh.
The Centre lays down norms and policy guidelines under the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, and the state Transport Department performs the functions of testing the vehicles and issuing fitness certificates. The responsibility of implementing the rules at the state level rests with the state government by creating suitable and robust infrastructure for carrying out fitness tests.
As per Rule 62 of the 1989 rules, all transport vehicles are required to undergo fitness test once in every two years after the initial registration. However, the system of inspecting vehicles is non-existent in the state. At present, only visual inspection is carried out by inspectors.
Last year, 7.56 lakh new vehicles were registered at 12 regional transport offices in the state. Of that number, 36,253 were transport vehicles. In 2018, 8.36 lakh new vehicles were registered and more than 38,000 were transport vehicles.
Just four motor vehicle inspectors means one officer issues fitness certificate to 24 new transport vehicles and around 174 old vehicles (for which fitness check is mandatory after every two years) every day. The inspection of 200 vehicles every day, according to experts, is impossible.
As per norms, it takes at least 22 minutes to inspect one vehicle. So, one inspector can inspect maximum 16 vehicles a day.
Transport Minister Razia Sultana could not be contacted in spite of repeated attempts.