OTV Exclusive: Post new MVA, middlemen rule the roost at RTO offices across Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Following the three-month relaxation by Odisha government to get MVA documents ready as per the new traffic norms, long serpentine queues are now being seen at Regional Transport Offices across the State which has led to middlemen taking advantage, promising faster issuance of documents for a higher price. Outside most RTOs, these middlemen run the show on their own terms and conditions as was evident from a sting operation by OTV team at some places in the State.

At many places, it was alleged that touts continue to hold sway at the offices across the State and they ran their corrupt practices with the active support of the staff. However, at several RTOs people also rubbished allegations of any interference by the middlemen.

In an exclusive sting operation, it was found that a section of people preferred help of these middlemen to RTO staff for early clearance of their documents. They found middlemen more convenient to deal with rather than official staff of RTO. These people also stated that in case of middlemen, they don’t have to wait for long neither do they get to do much paperwork.

During the reality check outside the RTO office in Cuttack, an agent was seen booking the slot for applicants by charging anywhere between Rs 1800 and Rs 3500 for driving license. He was even seen assuring that one can get the learning license within eight days.

Though some people admitted the role of middlemen but also clarified that the steps taken by government to bring traffic discipline was welcome. “The norms have been relaxed by the government for three months so there is no reason to panic. Thus the need to go to middlemen is remote. One can wait and complete the paperwork at a good pace,” said Sayed Maqbul Ali, ex-member of National Road Safety Council, Bhubaneswar.

“I have come here (RTO, Cuttack) for renewal of driving license. Today, a person approached me and told he would help me get the document for a price higher than what the government rates are, but I denied,” said a person standing in the queue at the office.

There is a shortage of staff at the RTO office, Bhubaneswar, due to which document processing is getting delayed. So people are approaching the brokers, who are charging around Rs 2000-Rs 2500 for driving license but getting the work done faster, said a local alleging that ‘no work can be done at the RTO office without the help of a broker’.

However, people in Berhampur refused to divulge anything about role of middlemen. “Everything here is being done in process and there is no interference by middlemen,” said a resident, in queue for a DL.

The online mechanism of the department is not working properly. So, people are forced to take the help of ‘dalal’, said another person at the RTO office in the Capital city.

After OTV telecast a report on exploitation of citizens by middlemen at RTO offices, Transport Minister Padmanabha Behera said that RTOs have been directed to provide services directly to people.