Registration of new vehicles comes to a halt

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, FEB. 15. Registration of all class of vehicles, renewal of driving licences, fitness tests and other routine work in the Motor Vehicles Department that fetches lakhs of rupees daily to the exchequer has come to a standstill for the past 10 days.

Since the indefinite strike by government employees began on February 6, no new vehicle, including cars and two-wheelers, has been registered till now. Along with the renewal of learner's and driving licences, driving tests, fitness tests and registration and re-registration of vehicles have come to a halt.

A top official told The Hindu that although the 230-strong executive cadre of officers from the Assistant Motor Vehicle Inspector (AMVI) and above were reporting for work, the dealers and the motorists were not bringing in vehicles for registration at the designated places fearing threats by the agitators.

A team of MV officials who inspected the vehicles on Thursday for completing the formalities for registration were threatened by the agitators and anti-social elements. Although the department had chalked out plans for on-the-spot inspection of brand new vehicles at the showrooms, it failed to take off as the dealers were not ready to take the risk.

Under the department, there are 14 Regional Transport Offices, three Rural RTOs at Attingal, Muvattupuzha and Vadakara, four nationalised RTOs and 42 sub-RTOs.

On an average, 1,500 vehicles, including 1,200 two-wheelers, are registered on a single day. The average tax collection from the capital accounts to Rs. 2 lakhs and that from Ernakulam Rs. 5 lakhs. The one-time vehicle tax from the newly registered vehicles alone comes to Rs. 25 lakhs daily.

As the mew vehicles cannot be taken out without valid registration, hundreds of people who have booked the cars and two-wheelers are in dire straits. The city-based car and motorcycle dealers say they had been flooded with calls from those who have booked the vehicles. "On an average, we were registering five cars and 25 to 30 scooters. After February 6, we have not registered even a single vehicle", says a sales official.

Although the Government can give exemption to the motorists for remitting the tax, it has not been empowered to give exemption for those vehicles which do not have valid fitness certificate, permit and registration to be driven on road. Same is the case with driving licences for the motorists.

The day-to-day functioning of the department has also been affected. Many offices of the RTOs such as those in Kollam, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Palakkad are housed in the civil station buildings which have remained closed.

In the MV department headquarters at the Transport Bhavan, only the Transport Commissioner, Senior Transport Commissioner, Deputy Transport Commissioner, Assistant Transport Commissioner, the Secretary, State Transport Authority, two probationers and two peons, who are due to retire next month, are reporting for work.

However, the issue of permits for vehicles from other States, collection of tax and compounding of tax was going on smoothly in the 12 check-posts across the State, where the Motor Vehicle Inspector (MVI) and AMVIs of the department, are posted.

According to the official, checking of vehicles is being carried by the MVIs and AMVIs along with the mandatory inspection of vehicles involved in mishaps. Vehicles which have been seized are being released after the motorists bring the tax remittance receipts from the banks.

Already, the department has made arrangements to enable the motorists to remit the vehicle tax in designated branches of some select banks in the State. "Although we have reports that tax is being remitted in the banks, the department is yet to get any figures of the tax collected," an official said.

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