Petition challenges RTO smart cards in High Court

A city resident has challenged in the High Court the state government's provision of issuing certificate of registration book (RC book) in the form of a smart card at an additional cost of Rs 200, arguing it is more expensive for vehicle owners besides causing hardships for them.

A division bench of HC has issued notices to the state government and the transport commissioner while posting the next hearing for April 4.

The petitioner, Imtiaz Sujela, has demanded that vehicle owners be allowed to choose between a smart card and the old-styled RC book. They should also be allowed to choose between collecting the two documents in person and getting the same delivered at home through speed post, he argued.

Sujela's lawyer Ramkrishna Dave said the RTO was issuing giving RC book in the form of a smart card at an additional cost of Rs 200 apart from the regular registration cost. "Earlier, the RC book was being provided in the form of a booklet and it used to contain the latest details of a vehicle like taxation, fitness certificate etc. However, the smart card does not contain many of these things and to get those things included in it, you have to get a new smart card every time at a cost of Rs 200. Now, without these information in the RC Book, the vehicle owners and drivers are facing a lot of problems outside Gujarat."

"Moreover, the smart cards are being delivered to people through speed post which costs around Rs 50 per card. In several cases, these cards are not delivered and the persons concerned have to collect it from RTO in person. This increases their expenditure manifold," Dave added.

The ESIC, which provide medical services through state-run Employees' State Insurance Scheme (ESIS), has started issuing smart cards to workers registered under ESIC. There are around 1.08 lakh insured workers in the district and smart cards have been issued to around 54,000 workers so far.

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Speaking to TOI, joint director, ESIC, R K Choudhary said, "We have already started issuing smart cards to the insured workers in Nashik district and around 50% of the workers have been issued the card in the past few months. The two centres at Satpur and Ambad will be fully operational from Friday."

"The smart card comes with lifetime validity and another smart card is not needed in case he leaves the existing company and join other company anywhere in the country," he added.

As per the ESI Act, the factories which have more than 10 workers and have salaries less than Rs. 15,000 a month are entitled to get registered with the ESIC. Around 4,000 factory employers with total 1.08 lakh workers have been registered or insured in Nashik district with the ESIC till date.

ESIC provides medical services to the insured workers and their dependents through ESIS hospitals and dispensaries. There is one ESIS hospital in Satpur and five dispensaries in the city.

Apart from full medical care, the insured persons are also entitled to a variety of cash benefits, in times of physical distress caused due to sickness, temporary or permanent disablement, resulting in loss of earning capacity, confinement with regards to women, dependants of insured persons who die in industrial accidents or because of employment injury or occupational hazard are entitled to a monthly pension called the dependants benefit. Around 1,267 people receive dependants' benefits in Nashik district.

The transit agency that serves Philadelphia and its suburbs announced its proposal Thursday for across-the-board fare hikes and details of a $200 million smart-card payment system slated to begin rolling out this summer.

No matter the mode of public transit, SEPTA commuters will soon be paying more to reach their destinations, but they'll be paying in a way SEPTA promises will be more convenient than the technologically outdated mode involving tokens, tickets and paper transfers.

"The ease of using smart-card technology ... is going to have huge positive benefits for our customers," Richard Burnfield, SEPTA chief financial officer, said at a news conference announcing the changes.

Among those benefits: no more waiting in line to buy passes and tokens, and easier replacement of lost or stolen passes that are registered with SEPTA, he said.

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The fare increases are expected to bring in $25 million in additional revenue for the cash-strapped agency, but that would still mean a $38 million shortfall in the fiscal budget effective July 1. State funds are being sought to make up the difference.

With the new system, hundreds of vending machines at bus and subway stations will sell refillable cards to replace weekly and monthly transit passes, tokens and paper transfers. Riders also will have the option to pay their fare by tapping a smartphone or smart-chip embedded credit or debit card on a turnstile equipped with an electronic reader, which will withdraw the fare from a SEPTA-linked bank or other account.

The so-called New Payment Technology program will make SEPTA among the country's first transit agencies to adopt a system that allows riders to pay fares using their own phone or bank card, rather than requiring riders to use an agency-branded fare card. The transition will begin this summer, with trial runs on new turnstiles first in the city and then the suburbs. The switchover will be completed by the end of 2014.

Under the proposal, the bus, trolley and subway base fare would rise from $2 to $2.25 on July 1, then to $2.50 when the smart-card system is completed by the end of next year. As is currently the case, full fares would apply to those riders, about 10 percent, who pay with cash. Riders who pay with cards and smartphones will get discounted fares, as token and transit pass users do now.

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