High land costs stall new driving licence rules implementation in Hyderabad

Stakeholders say it is difficult for driving schools to obtain an acre of land, either in the city or the outskirts, for tracks.
Representative image
Representative image

HYDERABAD: With the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) announcing changes to the driving licence rules, driving school owners and members of driving school associations in Hyderabad have pointed out that acquiring large land parcels required for constructing test tracks is a major constraint in the implementation of new norms.

While it was earlier mandatory for new drivers to undergo a test at the Regional Transport Office (RTO), the new rules, which were supposed to come into effect on June 1, said that tests can be taken at any accredited private driving school. However, the Transport department did not receive even a single application from private trainers until June 13 to establish the new accredited Driving Training Centres (DTC) for testing purposes.

The new norms necessitate driving school owners to have at least a minimum of one acre of land, in addition to the required infrastructure and qualified workforce. Currently, there are around 300 certified light motor vehicle driving schools in Hyderabad, while over 1,000 are operating without registration, reports say.

P Veeranna, who runs a motor driving school in Kundanbagh Colony, Begumpet, said, “If we (the owners) had this much money, why would we purchase cars on finance and pay the EMIs in addition to the rent of offices? What is left after that is similar to the salary of a regular driver: Rs 20,000-Rs 25,000.” Meanwhile, stakeholders believe it is difficult for many driving school owners to obtain an acre of land for driving tracks, either in the city or on the outskirts, due to the high land rates.

Sama Srikanth Reddy, general secretary of the Telangana Driving School Association (TDSA), and B Swamy, president of the Telangana LMV Motor Driving School Owner’s Welfare Association, asserted that the majority of driving school owners in the city come from lower-middle income groups and cannot afford to buy large land parcels, particularly in urban areas.

“In almost every part of the city, the price of land is either in crores or nearing it. How can a person even think of buying it? Consider that if you are living in the heart of the city and I buy land in the outskirts like Shamirpet or Shadnagar, the price might be relatively less, for around Rs 50 lakh, but why would anybody want to come that far every day for a month? Of course, they would want to train at places near their houses,” Swamy told TNIE.

Demand for govt support

Meanwhile, Srikanth asserted that the guidelines are ‘mere paperwork’ and lack the capacity building for implementation unless there is a public-private partnership, according to the 2014-introduced Institute of Driving Training and Research (IDTRs), Regional Driving Training Centres (RDTCs), and Driving Training Centres (DTCs). “If road safety is a priority for the government concerned over the rate of accidents, should it not show the route ahead and provide land and infrastructure at least at a subsidised rate, similar to what it does for industries? Instead, it is dependent on private people,” he told TNIE.

As a government-private partnership, the MoRTH reportedly started a financial assistance scheme in 2014 to set up IDTRS for Rs 18.5 crore and RDTCs for Rs 5 crore per centre. Additionally, it allocates 50% of the project cost, or up to Rs 1 crore per driving training centre. While 300 such centres have been envisaged to date, there are reportedly 29 IDTR centres, with at least one in Telangana’s Sircilla.

“I want to set up an RDTC in Shamirpet and have submitted a proposal to MoRTH in 2019 for an assistance of Rs 1 crore, which is around 38% of the total amount, which is Rs 2.6 crore. While the Telangana government gave me the nod, I am still waiting for approval from the Union Ministry,” pointed out Srikanth.

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