Transport Deptt faltering on several key aspects of its basic mandate

MVD reeling under acute shortage of field-staff

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Jan 20: Transport Department, which is supposed to play significant role in the socio-economic development of the State by enhancing mobility besides ensuring strict enforcement of the Motor Vehicle Act, has not prepared any concrete road-map to fulfill its basic mandate.
Due to this, the department and its allied wings have failed to come up to the expectations of the people particularly in rural areas of the State where their presence is of utmost importance for smooth mobility and safety of passengers.
This can be gauged from the information on different vital aspects provided to the Members of Legislative Assembly by none else than the Minister Incharge Transport Department Sunil Sharma today.
The Transport Department has two major constituents—State Road Transport Corporation and Motor Vehicles Department. While the Motor Vehicle Department (MVD) is required to deal with the multi-dimensional aspects of the road transport including enforcement of rules, the State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) is required to provide regular, adequate, economical and coordinated services to the general public.
The condition of the SRTC can be gauged from the fact that it has 750 operational vehicles against the total fleet of 847 and in majority of the rural areas of the State it has negligible presence because of failure of the Government to infuse new lease of life in it.
Erstwhile Doda district (presently comprising of districts of Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban) is one of the victims of negligible presence of SRTC fleet. A total 34 SRTC buses were provided to the erstwhile Doda district in the year 2009. Of these, 15 were provided in Doda, 12 in Kishtwar and 7 in Ramban.
Out of these 34 buses, two belonging to Ramban district were auctioned reducing the fleet of Doda Depot to 32 vehicles. As on date, out of 32 vehicles, 14 are operative and 18 are in the workshop for necessary maintenance during the past quite long time, read the information provided by the Transport Minister.
Interestingly, the Transport Minister is from Kishtwar district, which is also facing acute shortage of SRTC vehicles. “If this is the situation in the district of the Minister what could be the scenario in other parts of the State can be easily gauged”, sources said, adding “it is a matter of concern that these three hilly districts which witness maximum road accidents after Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, have been deprived of sufficient number of SRTC vehicles”.
It is pertinent to mention here that shortage of SRTC vehicles is leading to overloading in the private vehicles and this is considered as main reason behind the road accidents.
“Additional vehicles will be provided after induction of new fleet” remains the standard reply of the Transport Department to the questions of the Legislators regarding deployment of sufficient number of SRTC vehicles in the rural areas of the State.
What to talk of increasing fleet even the financial condition of the Corporation is not showing any sign of improvement despite the fact that Government is repeatedly issuing statements that steps are being initiated to improve the financial health of SRTC.
The Transport Minister informed the Legislative Assembly that revenue of the Corporation was far less than its expenditure. During 2015-16 financial year, the revenue of SRTC was Rs 100.10 crore while as its expenditure was Rs 113.84 crore. Similarly, during 2016-17, the revenue of the Corporation was Rs 98.29 crore while as its expenditure was Rs 129.73 crore.
As far as Motor Vehicle Department is concerned, it is reeling under acute shortage of manpower particularly of Motor Vehicle Inspectors (MVIs), who are required to check violations of Motor Vehicle Act on ground.
There is only one each Motor Vehicle Inspector in Kathua, Rajouri, Poonch, Udhampur, Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban, Bandipora, Shopian, Kulgam and Leh districts while as Samba, Reasi, Baramulla, Ganderbal, Kupwara and Pulwama have two each Motor Vehicle Inspectors. There is no Motor Vehicle Inspector in Kargil.
Moreover, the Motor Vehicle Department has failed to establish Institute of Driving, Training and Research (IDTR) during the past several years despite the fact that funds have been made available by the Union Government.
While the work on IDTR Jammu was started recently the IDTR for Srinagar is yet to be sanctioned by the Union Government due to inordinate delay in identification of land by the Motor Vehicle Department.
“Had any road-map been prepared the Transport Department and its allied wings could not have been facing these problems for years together”, sources remarked.