Addressing issues related to school transport is our priority, says Ajri
Regional Transport Officer (RTO), Pune, Balasaheb Ajri’s focus has been on improving transport facilities for school children ever since he has taken over the reins of the Regional Transport Office (RTO) Pune. He spoke to Sushant Ranjan about various issues.
What initiatives has the RTO taken for the safety of school children as they commute in overloaded autorickshaws and vans?
The two approved modes of transport are school buses and school vans.
Autorickshaws, however, can ferry students as long as they don’t violate the seating capacity rule, which is four persons per vehicle. We heard all of them and decided that this overloading needs to stop.
Recently, we conducted a workshop for school bus drivers and conductors. Drivers and conductors should learn how to evacuate children from vans during an emergency.
Safety of school children is a primary priority of the transport department. We asked schools and parents to form a School Transport Committee in every school.
The number of vehicles is increasing every year, adding to congestions. What is your take on this?
In Pune, the issue is bigger. The only solution is to have a very robust public transport system. Every day, around 800 to 1,000 vehicles (two-wheelers and four-wheelers) start plying on city roads. Until last year, a total of 33 lakh vehicles were registered with the Pune RTO, of which 25 lakh were two-wheelers. As many as 1.78 lakh new vehicles were added last year, out of which 49,000 were four-wheelers. The earning of Pune region, which includes Pune and Solapur, was Rs 1,471 crore during the last financial year. The amount is 21 per cent of the total revenue (Rs 6,700 crore) earned by the State transport department.
There are unauthorised agents at Pune RTO. What action has been taken against them?
Recently, the Transport Commissioner has issued an order to keep a vigil on unauthorised agents. We have already started taking action against them. The only way to stop these persons is that citizens have to come forward and use the online facility. The process is user-friendly so that the need for agents is completely eliminated. If anyone faces harassment or trouble from agents and if there is sufficient evidence, a police complaint will be lodged against them.
Many vehicles plying in the city are registered in other states which cause revenue loss to the RTO. What initiatives have been taken to stop this?
The transport department has taken action against 21 high-end vehicles costing as high as Rs 1 crore from April to June.
A team has been already formed for the purpose.
Mostly, these high-end vehicles are registered in Jharkhand, UP, Bihar and Union territories such as Pondicherry and Diu and Daman. As per the new ordinance by the State, the vehicle tax for imported vehicles is above 20 per cent, whereas in these states, it is less than 10 per cent.
The one-time tax for registration of all new vehicles, including two-wheelers, three-wheelers and four wheelers, is 2 per cent.