Pradeep Pattanayak

In a bid to keep a tight rein on the use of hired vehicles by officials other than ministers, secretaries of departments, district magistrates and district judges, the Finance department has effected a change in the rent and mileage of private vehicles used for official purposes. 

As per the Office Memorandum issued by the Finance department, ministers and other dignitaries can use private vehicles such as Innova, Hexa, and XUV 500 by paying a maximum of Rs 42,000 per month. The same for the principal secretaries, secretaries, and other equivalent officers is Rs 30,000 and the types of vehicles are Ciaz and Honda City (petrol). 

Similarly, the special secretaries, additional secretaries, and heads of the departments can hire Zest, Tigor, Swift Dzire, Xcent and Etios (petrol) by paying Rs 26,000 per month. 

The types of vehicles for the district Collectors, SPs and other equivalent officers are Scorpio, Creta and Mahindra Marazzo by paying Rs 37,000 per month. The monthly hiring price limit for officers of the apex scale is Rs 42,000 and the types of the vehicles are the same as those of ministers. 

The government will give Rs 85,000 per month to colleges, universities, training institutes and other equivalent institutions. And the types of vehicles they can hire are mini buses (30-32 seaters). 
While BDOs and tehsildars can pay a maximum of Rs 31,000 toward the rent of hired vehicles such as TUV 300, Sumo Gold, Bolero and Ertiga, district and range level officers, heads of the departments and secretariat can hire Tiago, Bolt and Celerio with a maximum hire charge of Rs 20,000. 
“A Collector also officiates as the head of different departments. I don’t think the amount fixed for us will fall short. It will be more than enough,” said Balasore Collector Dattatraya Bhausaheb Shinde. 
“The new guidelines will be helpful to us as it mentions the conditions of the vehicles and other criteria,” said Nabarangpur tehsildar, Jayadratha Acharya. 
On the other hand, former administrators are of the opinion that the misuse of money paid by the government toward the rent of hired vehicles can never be stopped fully. 
“The hired vehicles will still be used to transport children to schools and colleges. But the ministers and officers will limit their uses of hired vehicles,” said former chief secretary, Sahadev Sahu. 
“This is not the first time the government has issued such guidelines. There were such guidelines issued earlier too. But no transparency was noticed then. We can’t say misuse of government money can be checked completely,” observed RTI activist, Prakash Agrawal.