The impasse at Andheri Regional Transport Office over documents that drivers, who recently won the autorickshaw permit lottery, require is delaying more new rickshaws hitting city roads.
Andheri RTO is the largest in the city and 12,080 permits were up for grabs at the lottery held on Feb 26. On account of the impasse, less than a dozen new rickshaws might have got permit.
The root of the problem is the condition that a driver has to get documents which show that he has no criminal antecedents; the main among them being the Police Clearance Certificate that he needs to get from G Branch of Mumbai Police Special Branch.
A new clause states that the firm/bank financing the permit-holder to buy the new rickshaw should also check his antecedents and ensure that his documents are correct.
This, according to rickshaw unions, is scaring away potential financiers. Speaking to DNA, Thampi Kurien, general-secretary, Mumbai Rickshawmen's Union, said: "Because of this, getting a loan for a rickshaw has become difficult. It's almost like asking banking official to stand guarantor for the permit-winner's credentials. Verifying a driver's credentials should be the job of the transport dept, not banks."
Andheri RTO officials however denied there was any such clause. RTO PG Bhalerao told DNA that police verification was being done according to conditions laid down by the transport dept.
"The western region of the city that comes under Andheri RTO had a problem of drivers with fake licences. That is why the verification process is so strict now. We understand that getting domicile or the police clearance certificate is taking time," said Bhalerao.
According to a senior transport official, the fact that just 8,000 of the 12,080 lottery winners had turned up with relevant papers almost five months after the lottery was held on Feb 26 could mean that some of them might have applied for the lottery with fake licences.
The impasse at Andheri RTO has reached the office of the state transport commissioner with Kurien submitting a complaint on Thursday. "Things should hopefully ease-up in the next few days," said a senior official.