STATE TIMES SPECIAL REPORT
JAMMU: It is official in the office of the Regional Transport Officer (RTO) in the winter capital. The moment visitors step into the aforesaid premises in pursuit of their licenses and other related jobs, a big hoarding hanging at the entrance awaits their welcome with “BEWARE OF TOUTS” scribed in bold letters.
However, minutes after getting out of the dragnet of ‘touts’ they realise their crucial importance. Their ordeal begins when they are made to run from pillar to post to get their work done and the task gets accomplished only when a ‘tout’ intervenes.
What else could be the surprise that the formalities, which the officials or the officers are incomplete or rejected by figuring out many objections, are passed in one go with the intervention of ‘touts’ operating outside the RTO Office Jammu.
According to sources, the touts, who claim to be legal operators and have also moved to the court with a plea that they must be allowed to work outside the premises, are more powerful and inter-linked with the officers.
Sources said that “touts and officers are hand-in-glove with each other and in 70 to 80 per cent cases the files moved by the touts get precedence in clearance than those, which are submitted through proper channel and ultimately remain shelved for months.”
“If you are visiting the RTO office even for a small task, which should normally take a day or two, is intentionally lingered on in most of the cases, the reason better known to the authorities concerned,” sources said, adding, “The files deposited to the officers by the touts immediately get signed without a single query and finally, the mission is accomplished, no doubt the required formalities are complete or not.”
“Even if you have to stand in a queue for hours to deposit registration fee for high security number plates, the tout gets it done in a minute or two from the backdoor,” sources said and alleged that ‘fixed commission’ is one of the major reasons from bottom to top in the office.
“Although the government has initiated several steps and digitalised the operations to bring more transparency yet unfortunately the visitors are made to run helter-skelter for their tasks and after running for days, they are left with no other option but to approach the tout to get job accomplished,” sources added.
Sources said that the agents (touts) are also hand-in-glove with the private contractors running unauthorised parking zone, who are charging from the riders on parking of their two-wheelers outside the work places of agents.
“The agents are openly looting the visitors and charging from them in the name of getting their work done and people feel constrained to pay handsomely to these touts,” some visitors to the office rued, adding, “apart from nominal and mandatory fee, where does the healthy share go remains a million dollar question?”
Some of the visitors expect the Governor’s administration to appoint registered agents having proper registration numbers with their fee fixed by the government so that only they are permitted to resolve problems of the visiting people in the RTO’s office.
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