Cassian Baliarsingh

The state government is trying all options to stop issuing physical driving license (DL) and registration certificates (RC) for vehicles, but the efforts of going digital have failed to receive the desired response in remote and inaccessible areas in Odisha, courtesy lack of smartphones and poor internet connectivity. 

While most people in rural pockets of the state are far from using a smartphone, hundreds of villages till today do not have proper internet connectivity.

The situation reminds of the plight of students during Covid-induced lockdown when they had to climb mountains to get proper network to attend online classes. Many were deprived of online classes due to lack of smartphones.

Odisha began issuing DL, RC and other vehicle-related documents digitally from January 1 this year in accordance with the state government’s 5T mandate to ensure better service delivery and prevent delays.

While the sole aim of this new process was to save time and money, the ground reality proves otherwise. 
Vehicle owners have to go through unwanted problems due to lack of awareness and adequate knowledge of tech and smartphones.

Sharing his experience, Nishan Pattnaik, a resident of Jeypore in Koraput district said, “I was once stopped by traffic cops who asked for my DL and RC. I showed them my DigiLocker. However, they had no idea what it was and were adamant on seeing my physical documents. If well educated traffic cops have no idea about DigiLocker, imagine the plight, common man or uneducated village people and labour class people might be going through.”

Similarly, Sadashiv Gouda, a local of Dasmantpur said, “I agree with government’s idea for advancement. But, how do people know about such advanced things. How many of us have smartphones in rural areas and know to operate them properly?”

On the other hand, many are of the opinion that the physical document process was neat and easy for common people. 
“The physical documentation, checking of hard copy was fine. In the name of digitalisation, government is only adding to the woes of common man as many till date do not have enough resources to buy a smartphone. Forget about poor, even many drivers do not use smartphones till now. Moreover, there are chances of fraud,” said Uttam Pradhan, a resident of Balasore. 

When contacted, Diptiranjan Patra, Joint Transport Commissioner said, “If any person wants DL and RC in PVC cards, then it will be provided to them. But, it is optional and not compulsory. The Centre has advised making it optional and state government has already given a green signal.”

(Reported by T. Gouri Shankar, Ranjit Pakala, Kapilendra Pradhan)