HYDERABAD: Despite almost 20 years passing by since its services were digitalised, the Road Transport Authority (RTA) continues to collect ‘user charges’, much to the chagrin of vehicle owners and applicants.
The user charges were originally introduced to collect funds for paying consultant and service providers for computerisation of the RTA office. RTA officials had at that time said that the fee under this head was part of the mechanism in view of digitisation.
Activists argue that 20 years on, despite the lack of a proper mechanism in place to provide stationery like application forms when online slot bookings are made for RTA services, the Authority continues collecting User Charges across its offices.
On Wednesday, T Rajashekhar, a resident of Lalapet in Secunderabad had to pay Rs 35 (as user charges) as part of the RTA service (transfer of ownership of a 2-wheeler), when he booked an online slot at an e-Seva Centre. He had paid a total of Rs 620 towards fees for service but was not provided with any stationery like hard copies of application forms. “I had to pay additional Rs 50 for getting hard copies of the forms. If we have to pay for printouts, then what is the Rs 35 being collected for?” he asked.
The RTA started collecting user charges in the year 2001 for 36 services, including issuing of licences and vehicle registration amongst others. On average, about 10,000 applicants in Hyderabad & RR (11 RTA offices) and 200 applicants in the districts approach the RTA per day, and they are ending up spending somewhere between Rs 40 to Rs 70 for applications which should be borne by department as part of the services offered. It is estimated that about Rs 500 crore has been collected by the RTA in the past two decades .
Vehicle owners and applicants are forced to buy the forms near offices when submitting applications. They question the practice, as it is considered an additional burden on applicants. Officials say that since the services are digitalised, this fee is collected.
“Earlier forms were sold by an Employees Cooperative Society, but following computerisation this was scrapped. User charges are collected by other States also. Since it is online, they have to take printouts,” said an official. However, activists say it should be scrapped, as it only fills the coffers of the Government.
“There should be an inquiry, as forms are not being provided but user charges are collected,” demanded M Dayanand, General Secretary, Telangana Auto and Motor Welfare Union.