Chennai

As applications are rejected, touts flood social media claiming to obtain e-passes for travel

Police checking vehicles at the Chennai-Tiruvallur border in Sholavaram in Chennai on Tuesday. Photograph used for representational purposes only.   | Photo Credit: B. JOTHI RAMALINGAM

With the e-pass applications of a large number of residents in the city and neighbouring districts being repeatedly rejected, some travel operators have started advertising on social media and message-sharing platforms assuring residents that they will obtain e-passes and provide transport, to any destination within the State.

Many such advertisements by touts have flooded social media and are being circulated since the lockdown began. “I found a post on Facebook by a travel agent claiming to get e-pass and a car from Kovilpatti to Chennai. When I enquired, the person said the travel cost for one person worked out to ₹15,000,” said M. Ramanujam, a resident of Madipakkam.

One cab operator from North Chennai, who had advertised that he could help get an e-pass and a car on a message-sharing platform, said that the tout he knows had contacts in the Collector’s offices and they pay them a good amount to get the pass cleared.

“People approach these middlemen as getting an e-pass has become tough even if it is for a genuine reason, including medical emergencies or for elders who are stranded. I had applied 10 times to travel to Tirunelveli, but was rejected,” rued C. Sekhar, a resident of Velachery.

After the COVID-19 outbreak, it has become mandatory to get an e-pass from the government to travel between districts and States. Earlier, nonresidenttamil.org was the portal meant for the registration of persons intending to enter or leave the State. But the State government has operationalised another portal, http://tnepass.tnega.org, for obtaining e-passes.

According to sources from the TNeGA, till date they have received 25.6 lakh applications in the individual category and over 10 lakh have been provided passes. The remaining have been rejected. In the industry category they received close to 3.86 lakh and 1.6 lakh have been approved.

“If people submit the proper documents for the relevant emergency, they will get the pass. But still many approach the middle men. The touts after taking money, photo-shop the original passes with fake QR codes and give it to the applicants. But they get caught at the border,” said a police officer.

Such cases have been reported in southern districts of Tamil Nadu and even from Tiruvallur. “Some touts have even created fake websites to authenticate the QR code. All these incidents have been reported to the police and soon, all of them will be arrested. Already two have been arrested in Tiruvallur district,” added the source from TNeGA.

Tourist taxi operators said that the registered firms do not indulge in such illegal methods. “Once they book our vehicle, we share the vehicle registration number with the customer and he/she applies for the pass. This is legal,” said Lalgudi N. Srinivasan, joint secretary, Chennai Tourist Taxi Owners Association.

The official from the TNeGA said that people should not approach touts or they may get arrested at the border if they carry a fake pass. “The process of applying for the e-pass is very simple and anyone can do it. There may be a few who are trying to earn some quick money and people should be wary of them,” he said. He said that soon an e-pass scanner by TNeGA will be made available free of cost to the public. They can scan it themselves to check if the QR code by the tout is correct or fake.


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Printable version | Sep 19, 2021 2:05:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/as-applications-are-rejected-touts-flood-social-media-claiming-to-obtain-e-passes-for-travel/article31849775.ece

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