For trial check under minister gaze, officials ‘arrange’ trucks
A little before noon on Tuesday, Transport Minister Gopal Rai entered the premises of the Burari Transport Authority where a “trial inspection” of diesel vehicles was underway. It was only after the minister was quickly whisked away for a briefing that officials realised a “minor” fact. No vehicle older than 10 years had been called in for the test.
The trial inspection had been organised after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) recently banned all diesel vehicles aged 10 and more.
So, while the minister was “briefed”, officials got busy on phones to ensure vehicles older than 10 years are present. Minutes before the minister came out of the briefing, one truck, older than 10 years, rolled in. One of the independent observers was quick to point out that the truck had an Haryana numberplate.
Rai then sat on the steps outside to watch the PUC checks being done. The Haryana truck jumped the queue to get its PUC check done under the minister’s gaze. By now, a second vehicle, more than 10 years old, was “arranged for”. Transporters, who earlier met Rai during his “briefing”, fought their way through the crowd and joined Rai on the steps.
Bhim Wadhwa, president of All India Motor Transport Congress, told the minister that 30 vehicles had been checked in front of him.
“Vehicles bought in 2003-04 passed the PUC test far better than those registered in 2012-13. We discussed the findings with the minister and he agreed with us that the 15-year age norm that the SC had fixed earlier should be brought back,”Wadhwa said.
The trial run also saw a representative from the Delhi Pollution Control Committee arriving around 1.30 pm. NGT-appointed local commissioner Aditya Prasad also reached the Burari just before noon.
A couple of private buses, one DTC bus, a few commercial taxis and one ambulance were in queue.where commercial vehicles come for fitness tests. The target set for officials was to check 100 vehicles, but they managed only 78.
Most of the drivers said they had come for scheduled fitness tests or had been “invited” for the trial.
“I had my fitness test scheduled today so I conducted a PUC check on my vehicle just a few days ago. I do not see the point of conducting this check again. If they had to collectdata, ideally, it should have been surprise checks,”a driver said.
Another driver said “a friend” in the Burari inspection unit had called him for the inspection.
S P Singh, senior fellow at the Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training , who was called in as an independent observer, termed the exercise a sham. “We have written to the special commissioner of the Transport department that we want to distance ourselves from this exercise, lest they present it to the NGT with our names on it. This was hardly a random check, it is a shame that drivers were specially called in for a fitness test. Only two vehicles were over 10 years old. This was just a show before television cameras.”
Rai said the government will be appraising the NGT about the results. “This was a random test on diesel vehicles. We will inform the NGT about the findings,” Rai said.