Illegal agents spotted operating from makeshift offices, built on the footpath, adjacent to the RTO office
Just a month after the state transport commissioner cracked the whip on illegal agents operating from the RTO premises across the state, touts at the Vashi Regional Transport Office (RTO) have managed to make a comeback.
Illegal touts were seen doing business as usual on Monday
On Monday, this correspondent spotted a few illegal agents helping applicants with forms and paperwork. They were operating from under a makeshift shelter, equipped with table and chairs, from the footpath next to the Vashi RTO building.
Last month, following directives issued by Transport Commissioner Mahesh Zagade, all the RTOs across Mumbai and its neighbouring cities banned illegal agents from entering the RTO premises. Officials at the Vashi RTO had then claimed that they had successfully managed to keep the touts at bay.
However, when questioned about their presence of touts on the RTO premises on Monday, a senior RTO official said, “We do not allow agents to enter the premises. But we do not have control over agents operating from outside.”
Commenting on the presence of illegal touts, Surinder Singh, a registered agent, said, “We are awaiting for the next hearing scheduled at the Bombay High Court on March 2. Clients who do not have time to fill necessary forms are requesting us to help.
At present, we only help them fill these forms, submissions are done by them.” Another registered agent claimed that many of them had different businesses and were not solely dependent on helping applicants to earn their bread and butter.
Last month, mid-day had reported that applicants coming to Vashi RTO were facing problems because the absence of touts had delayed the processing of documentation work. Further, staff crunch at the RTO had burdened the existing workforce and had slowed down the day-to-day work.
PIL in High Court
The secretary of Maharashtra Rickshaw Chalak Malak Sena Tejinder Singh Bindra filed a petition in the Bombay High Court on January 20, requesting a stay on the eviction of agents at the various RTOs. The next hearing has been scheduled for March 2.