A Visit to the Regional Transport Office (RTO) near Sangam bridge reveals that the condition of the premises and the over one-acre plot it is situated on has gradually fallen into disarray and visitors go through an ordeal of sorts during visits.
The absence of toilets and other basic amenities, security-related lapses, dirty office interior, unsafe electricity connections and switchboards and outdated computerised system are just a few on the long list of problems plaguing the office staff and visitors.
Though the RTO is one of the highest revenue making offices of the state, and despite generating Rs 750 crore in 2011 and over Rs 900 crore last year, the state government scrapped the renovation proposal plan costing Rs 37 crore.
The RTO building has not been renovated or repaired since its construction in 1989. In the last 23 years, apart from some minor electricity line repairs, the building or premises have seen no major maintenance or work. Currently, around 5,000 people visit the RTO office every day and around 700 vehicles get registered here on average each day.
Considering the increasing work inflow, RTO officials had prepared a proposal for a complete modernisation of the office. The plan included construction of two additional floors, toilets, addition of new compartments, cabins and new interiors.
Officials of Public Work Department (PWD) surveyed the building and had prepared a Detailed Project Report (DPR), which was submitted to the State Government. “The current structure is faulty and outdated. Counters and desks are in the corners, and visitors gather in the middle of the office, which causes problems.
People can also enter the office from back and side doors and directly meet staff, as there are no cabins with individual doors. We demanded in the proposal for construction of cabins and counters in the middle of the office so visitors cannot enter the office directly. We want infrastructure similar to what exists in the current Police Commissionerate Office, Pune,” said Arun Yeola, Regional Transport Officer.
As per procedure, proposals reach the State Government through the Finance Department. DPRs are scrutinised before being getting administrative approval and being sanctioned in the budget. Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar announced approval of Rs 37 crore for RTO renovation project a year ago.
According to sources, a year after being announced the proposal is still struggling to get administrative approval and the reason it has not, is allegedly due to insufficiency of funding. RTO officials are planning to issue a fresh proposal for Rs 5 to Rs 7 crore to be able to cover basic repair works.
“On the backdrop of increasing accident rate, why is the State Government not giving importance for renovation of an important transport body? We currently do not have adequate infrastructure to conduct proper fitness certification tests before passing vehicles and allowing them to ply on the roads. There is also urgent need for up-gradation of the computerised system,” said one of a senior Regional Transport Officer on condition of anonymity.