Hassles of Owning a car in Kerala
by, 19-08-10 at 11:49 AM (5145 Views)
We were to get a new Tata Nano which we’d booked right after the launch ceremony. Since we weren’t included in the first list of ‘allotees’, we had to wait for more than a year to get our car. Having initially booked a ‘Champagne Gold BSIII’ model, we later changed it to Yellow color after my brother said he preferred that color. There were hassles in getting the color changed, but after a couple of complaints with the Corporate Head of Tata Motors and the Head of Tata Nano, we got the color reallocated. Then followed problems with getting the car delivered from Kulathunkal Motors after registration.
For registration, we have to submit a proof of address and identity. I’d initially submitted my mother’s passport, since the car was supposed to be for her. The application for registration was rejected on the basis that the passport had expired a year ago. Logic doesn't work with the Motor Vehicles Department. Does expiry of a passport mean change of address? A passport’s validity is for a period of 10 years. What if we’d moved right after renewal of a passport?
I phoned up the Motor Vehicles Department (hereafter known as MVD). They told me that they could accept only the Electoral Card, Passport or the address proof issued by the Village Officer. The electoral card was issued more than 10 years ago when our house was still in a ‘village’ (technically a village. Come on, if the heart of Trivandrum city is a village, what do you call a real village?), and hence the address read as “Vettathu, 351, Ulloor” while our ‘real’ address should also include our lane’s name and locality (Pongummood). Anticipating problems with the MVD, I set out to the village office to get a certificate from them. They wanted the tax receipt issued by the Corporation before they issued the certificate.
My father had last paid tax for the house three years ago. He didn't pay after that because when he approached the Village Office for payment of tax, they told him to get the new revenue number from another office, Government Offices which employ staff who either sleep throughout the day at their desks or are vacant from their desks (for tea, lunch, games, or picking up their wards from schools amongst other family matters) seem to fail to understand the fact that the general public are also busy with their own personal affairs. Since I didn't have the tax receipt, I told him I hadn't brought it with me. He told me to come with the receipt on another day. I told him that I was a Doctor working in Health Services and that I’d have to waste another day of leave if I had to come again. That seemed to do the trick.
Note: If you want to have something done at a government office, you need to do one of the following:
- Try to do it in the normal way-waiting long queues
- Approach a clerk or officer, and explain your official title and position (if you’re employed in one of the State or Central Government departments). As for myself I failed to mention the work that I’m working on Compulsory Rural Service. Why should I? He doesn’t need to know what he doesn't have to know!
- Make one of your top government contacts call up the officer at the desk. These contacts may range from a retired officer of the same department to a senior officer at the Secretariat, to a Minister.
- Discreetly talk to one of the guards or peons at the department and ask them who to bribe. Note: I have never and refuse to ever try this method.
- If you have time to spare (30 plus days), submit your application, get the file number, and file a Right to Information application the same day asking for information on the status of the file. Technically they may still refuse the file, in which case you may have to resubmit the application with the information sought for. But in case you’re sure that your application is correct in all details, this will work.
I got the required certificate and visited the Tata Motors dealership at Kulathunkal Motors. There, I talked to Azad Harry Pothen, one of the Managing Partners (owners), who called up the RTO (big private firms often are on first name basis with big government officials. The reason must be obvious to you. The RTO said the certificate I’d submitted was not enough. Following Mr Pothen’s persistence, he agreed to accept the certificate.
Next day, the application was again rejected! They were now asking for the Election ID or Passport. The Passport had expired and the Election ID technically did not have the address recorded as we’d submitted in the form. 90% of the Indian population doesn’t have a passport. Does that mean they can’t buy a car if their Election ID details have issues? There are other identification documents accepted by the Government for other purposes, like Ration card, Driving License, PAN Card. Apparently the MVD does not accept any of these. Maybe they think the departments which issued these are as corrupt as them!
As of now, the car registration is still pending before the MVD. Since I’ve paid the registration fees to Tata Motors, I refused to pursue the matter personally and told Kulathunkal they had to do it. Even after Sixty three years of Independence, government departments are still as corrupt and inept as ever. The situation demands a radical solution. But forums like the Right to Information Act, and the Consumer Protection Forum are shod in legal technicalities. The State Information Commission recently received a politician Sony.B.Thengamam as State Information Commissioner in blatant violation of the RTI Act. If there is no constitutional provision to see that even a Ministry violates the law, the fact that the situation at the MVD isn’t different isn’t strange.
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