CHENNAI: The new year brings a small parcel of relief for the differently abled who face problems in getting their modified two-wheeler vehicles registered with the Regional Transport Office (RTO). On Tuesday, the state government put the seal of approval for TVS Motors Pvt Ltd to set up workshops or retrofitment centres across the state where physically disabled persons may modify their gearless scooters by adding two extra wheels in the rear. The RTOs will register those scooters that have been retrofitted in these workshops as they have been certified by Automobile Research Association of India (ARAI), Pune for safety standards, according to a press release issued by the government.
The move is long overdue as two-wheeler vehicles owned and modified for the use of disabled persons are not being registered for the last two years ever since the Central government passed a resolution in 2008. According to the resolution, modified gearless scooters may no longer be classified as invalid carriages and had to get their modification done from workshops certified by ARAI. "But when I had to get my vehicle retrofitted, I found out that there was not a single certified workshop in all of Tamil Nadu," said N Kamaraj, a resident of Pollachi whose modified vehicle remains unregistered even six months after the date of purchase. "Neither were any of the manufacturers providing retrofitment services themselves."
But this order only brings mixed relief for the disabled. The order only concerns buyers of TVS vehicles and will bring no relief to owners of vehicles of other brands. "Of what good use is this order to me?" asked Kamaraj, who owns a Honda Activa. Sources in the transport department say that they are hoping that this move will cause a cascade effect and prompt other vehicle manufacturers to also come forward and apply for certification.
The order also does not make any provision for existing unregistered vehicles that have already been modified at local uncertified workshops. "Existing modified TVS vehicles may have to get their modification done again at these TVS workshops as this is a question of safety standards," stated a transport official.
The provision, however, is not welcome to most owners of modified vehicles. "I paid Rs 42,000 for my TVS Scooty Pep+ and Rs 10,000 later to get it retrofitted at a workshop," said Naresh Kumar from Tiruchi district. "I certainly cannot afford to cough up so much money again to get it remodified by a TVS centre. Why can't the RTO officials themselves inspect the already modified vehicles for safety parameters and give their own certification?"
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