Text updates from Calcutta transport department for driving licence plea status

The transport department will send text messages updating an applicant for a driver's licence about the status of the application at every stage so that he or she is not fleeced by touts, who extort money by giving wrong information. In the existing system, an applicant receives an alert only when the licence -- learner's or permanent -- is approved. Sources in the department said that in the new system, alerts would start coming from the time one applied for a licence.

To start with, a message will come saying "Your application has been generated". An alert will come at every subsequent step, such as payment of fees ("Your fee against application number... has been deposited"), scrutiny of the documents uploaded and approval of the licence. "The idea behind issuing text alerts at every step is to do away with touts, who demand a hefty amount for helping applicants get a driving licence," an official in the transport department said.

The touts often scare unsuspecting applicants citing delays and ask for money with the promise of faster disposal of applications. Once the new system is rolled out, an applicant will be informed of all the steps and will even get to know where and why the application is stuck. The official in the transport department said: "It will work both ways.

Officials handling an application will be more accountable and applicants, too, will be informed about the fate of their applications." The alerts will also be sent to existing licence holders a month before the licence lapses and also after the expiry. People often tend to forget the date of expiry of their licence and by the time they realise it, it's late.

The same holds true for the pollution-under-control certificate and the insurance of their cars. "We have decided to send text messages to remind one about the date of renewal of insurance and pollution check. For commercial vehicles, the service will include reminders for road tax and permit renewal," the official said.

The state government has tied up with the National Informatics Centre to tap data available with the ministry of road transport and highways for sending alerts to vehicle owners. Sources said work of linking data is almost complete and the process of sending text alerts will begin in a month or so, if everything works out according to schedule. Police officers said the text reminders would help owners of commercial vehicles -- such as buses, minibuses and Matadors -- to keep their records up to date. "On several occasions, we have found that buses and other commercial vehicles don't have fitness certificates.

With this alert mechanism, the owners will not be able to say they forgot to get their papers renewed," an officer in the traffic department said.

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