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SK. Anantham, an IAS officer was posted as Transport Commissioner. The whole Transport department including its Minister is steeped in corruption. While posting Anantham, the Chief Minister had privately told him to clean up the department. Anantham faced a tough task. It is widely believed that the Minister of the Department has arranged posting of 'bad elements' too sensitive jobs with the sole objective of facilitating rent-seeking.
Corrupt practices take place mainly in check-posts. There is heavy vehicle traffic to the neighbouring state which has many ports. Check posts work on an age-old system. There is a parking area where the drivers of the trucks first park the vehicle. They then collect ‘challans’ (demand note) after standing in a long queue before the window of the challan issuing officers. The driver may have to wait in the queue anywhere between 15 minutes to an hour to collect the challan from the clerk. Along with the challan amount, the truck drivers also paid an 'extra' amount as indicated in a coded sign language by the challan issuing staff.
In case the supervisor of the check-post has any doubt about the weight or the nature of goods carried he would ask the driver to get the weight verified in the weighbridges. If the details do not tally with the challan prepared on the basis of the driver's report, he has to go back to the payment counter and pay the shortfall amount including a penalty which sometimes could go as high as 100% of normal charges. Because of manual systems, vehicles are held up for considerable time at the check-posts.
In Anantham's place, how would you try to improve the system?
- Conduct surprise raids on check-posts, seize unauthorized, unaccounted cash and prosecute check-post officials.
- Set a high personal example of honesty, efficiency and dedication to duty.
- Create a system of informers at check-posts to know about the shady activities.
- Introducing a system of complete automation, minimising retention time of vehicles, computerizing collection of tax and increasing weighbridges and establishing real-time video linkage between check-posts and transport commissioner's office.
250 words | 20 marks
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