AHMEDABAD: Rajal Shah, a resident of Paldi, completed the process of getting her learner’s licence gave her photograph and other details hoping to get the driving licence like her friends did, through a courier. However, her month-long wait will get longer. Meanwhile, she is clutching the receipt which says that she has completed the procedure and will get her licence soon.
Shah is not alone. In Gujarat, nearly two lakh applicants for driver’s licenses – which are in the form of ‘smart cards’ – are yet to get them. For Ahmedabad, the number is 40,000.
Senior transport department officials said blank cards are sourced from a Singapore-based company in accordance with the Smart Card Operating System for Transport Applications (SCOSTA) specifications. The business consortium though, has stopped supply after disputes over payment and conditions, which that the state transport department calls a breach of understanding.
State transport commissioner J P Gupta accepted that smart cards aren’t being issued to RTOs for driving licences, for more than one-and-a-half month. “However, we are in talks with the company and they have agreed to ship a batch of 50,000 cards soon. Once the supply is back on track, we are hopeful of clearing the backlog in a month,” he said.
Gupta said the state needs nearly 1 lakh cards every month for fresh licenses.
Gujarat was among the first states to get the smart card system for driving licenses, in early 2000. A chip is embedded on a plastic card which also bears the photograph, personal details and signature of the holder. The aim was to make the licensing process transparent and prevent misuse of licences. Officials however have still not been able to devise a system to link card reading and traffic issues to identify habitual offenders and take punitive action.
Ahmedabad RTO officials said that May and June saw an almost 50% jump in applications from to two factors. “These months typically mark vacation time for school and college students, who start learning to drive vehicles at this time and apply for licences. Another factor is the introduction of the electronic test track for two and four wheelers, as many people are trying to get licenses before this is implemented. Right now, only emergency cards are being issued,” said a senior RTO official.