MUMBAI: More than 7,000 new smart card driving licences were card driving licences were burnt and 20 computers used for making them damaged in the over two-hour fire at Tardeo RTO on Sunday. It will affect distribution and printing of permanent driving licences in the island city for some time, officials said. There was chaos on Monday as computers used for tests faced “technical glitches”. Sources said the computers were brought in from Wadala and Andheri RTOs, so when applications were processed, they got registered under MH-02 (Andheri) or MH-03 (Wadala), when they should have been MH-01 (Tardeo RTO). But officials rectified the problem quickly.
Sanemi Parikh, a college student who was among the first to arrive for a licence, said, “I arrived at 10am and came out of the test room after around two hours. We were made to wait as there was computer problem and only three out of 12 were working.” Another applicant complained of a long queue in the Tardeo RTO compound in the rain. The premises destroyed in the fire had a huge waiting hall, AC room for tests of 25 candidates at a time and spacious cabins for checking documents and biometrics. The alternate arrangement was a small room, cramped with few chairs, two tables for RTO inspectors to check documents and 12 computers for tests.
There was a crowd outside H-block room, where tests were conducted. Regional transport officer Subhash Pedamkar said, “In record time and with assistance of all officials, including women, who stayed back till 9pm on Sunday, we got 12 computers, furniture and arranged for alternate space to ensure licences are issued from Monday morning. We restored the system amid challenging conditions. There may have been teething problems in the morning but we streamlined the issuance of licences by afternoon.”
Sources said the transport department has proposed 30 digital tablets to replace the 12 computers so that more applicants can clear tests. Western India Automobile Association has proposed tests at its Churchgate premises. Nitin Dossa of WIAA said, “We conduct 100 learner’s licence tests daily from 11am to 5pm, and propose to increase it to 200 from 9am to 5pm. They will also be given lectures in road safety.”
Sources said alternate arrangements have been made for printing smart card licences and those burnt will be reprinted in four days. Around 22,000 blank smart cards also got burnt, the sources added.