Road safety expert sounds alarm over delayed HSRP rollout in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh
In spite of being mandated by the Supreme Court, the amended Rule 50 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules (CMVR), and notifications from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), the rollout of HSRPs remains sluggish in a few states, including Maharashtra.
Dr. Kamaljeet Soi, a member of the National Road Safety Council and Chairman of Raahat (The Safe Community Foundation), a non-profit organisation (NGO), has expressed concerns about the delayed implementation of High Security Registration Plates (HSRP) in Maharashtra, Chattisgarh, and a few other states.
According to Soi, in spite of being mandated by the Supreme Court, the amended Rule 50 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules (CMVR), and notifications from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), the rollout of HSRPs remains sluggish in a few states, including Maharashtra. This delay, he claims, raises serious concerns about road safety, citizen security, and national safety.
HSRPs are tamper-proof plates embedded with microchips, making it easier to track stolen vehicles and apprehend criminals. They also aid in automatic toll collection and the enforcement of traffic rules.
Soi urged the Maharashtra government to expedite the HSRP rollout process and ensure its smooth implementation."Timely adoption of this crucial technology is essential to safeguarding our citizens and strengthening road safety in the state," he asserted.
Moving at a snail's pace
Back in 2001, the Indian government envisioned a future where vehicles sported secure, tamper-proof identification plates. This vision, embodied in the High Security Registration Plates (HSRP) scheme, aimed to enhance road safety, nab criminals, and streamline traffic management. The Supreme Court even intervened, urging states to adopt the scheme.
Fast forward to today, and while most states have embraced HSRP, a glaring exception stands out: Maharashtra. Over 2 crore vehicles, registered before April 2019, remain devoid of these crucial plates. This delay not only creates a security loophole but also hinders progress on vital goals like automatic toll collection and efficient enforcement.
As per Soi, Maharashtra's journey with High Security Registration Plates (HSRP) has been a bumpy one, riddled with stalled tenders and unfulfilled promises. While the state government has tried floating tenders for HSRP suppliers on multiple occasions, each attempt has hit a dead end.
The latest tender, launched in August 2023, aimed to find suppliers for fitting HSRPs on older vehicles. But, similar to its predecessors, it has faced multiple extensions, the latest being on February 12th, 2024. This raises a crucial question: is the tender process itself the roadblock?
Interestingly, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) itself acknowledges this challenge. They've offered an alternative route: partnering with vehicle manufacturers for HSRP installation, just like they do for new vehicles. This approach has proven successful in states like Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, and Madhya Pradesh, who've embraced the OEM route for swift and smooth implementation.
Work on, amidst legal challenges, claims transport commissioner
Maharashtra's Transport Commissioner, Vivek Bhimanwar, told Autocar Professional that the state's motor vehicle department is not lagging behind in implementing its HSRP bids, as a tender has been in place since August 2023 for fitting tamper-proof HSRPs to all vehicles registered in the state before April 2019.
He added that the ongoing tender is targeted to be closed by the end of March 2024. The top official noted that tender documents floated by the Maharashtra government have ensured that the contractors who will make HSRPs in bulk will meet the demand of installing 2 crore number plates in one go.
However, hiccups remain on account of a public interest litigation (PIL) filed in the Bombay High Court to quash the proceedings of the current tender for implementation of HSRP. With the preliminary hearing underway, the state government has given the go-ahead nod to carry on with the tender proceedings as the court has not imposed any stay in the case.
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