HSRP credibility under scanner

By Our Reporter

 SHILLONG: Question marks have again been raised on the credibility of the High Security Registration Plates (HSRP) since the number of stolen vehicles has spiralled in the past three years. Police say that 211 vehicles have been stolen from East Khasi Hills alone in the past three years.

The State Government in November 2005 signed an agreement with Shimnit Utsch India Private Limited (SUIPL) for implementing of high security registration plates (HSRP) ostensibly to reduce the number of vehicle thefts in the State.

Sources in the Government say that the then Transport Minister Deborah Marak was against the deal because of the pricing, which she felt was ‘over the top.’ But the then chief minister JD Rymbai virtually pushed through the deal. Mr Rymbai could not be contacted for his views.

Interestingly, nearly all the vehicles stolen between January 2009 up to December 2011, are those fitted with the HSRP.

As per the official figures, 83 vehicles were stolen in 2009 including 47 two wheelers and 36 four wheelers.

In 2010, the number of stolen vehicles totalled 70 which included 24 two wheelers and 46 four wheelers.

In 2011 the number of stolen vehicles stood at 58, which included 24 two wheelers and 34 four wheelers.

The fact remains that the HSRP is no better than an ordinary registration number since there is no tracking system in place.

The car lifters can still remove the HSRP and install new registration number plates after lifting the vehicles.

Recently, a SUIPL manager operation Satinder Pal Singh Suri had revealed that the HSRP does not have the facilities for tracking the physical position of a vehicle through satellite.

According to Suri, the primary reason for introducing the project in the State is to bring about uniformity in the registration plates among all vehicles in Meghalaya in compliance with the Supreme Court directive.

This is the only reason why the Government of Meghalaya wanted the HSRP to be fitted on both new and old vehicles.

“Uniformity in the registration plates would make it easier for police to track down stolen vehicles since they are aware that there is only one particular style of registration plates among the vehicles in the State,” he had stated.

When contacted, a senior police official admitted that the HSRP is not a foolproof mechanism to check cases of vehicle thefts.

“But it is found that criminals are apprehensive of stealing those vehicles which are fitted with HSRPs,” a senior police official said, adding, “The HSRP has slightly helped in reducing the number of vehicle thefts”. He however believed that the job of the law enforcing agencies would be easier once all the vehicles in the State are fitted with the HSRP. “It would be difficult for the car lifters to lift vehicles once all the vehicles are fitted with HSRP,” a senior police official added. At the moment several vehicles still ply without the HSRP and they include Government vehicles. The city police on Sunday last nabbed five members of an inter-State gang involved in the lifting of Bolero vehicles from various parts of the city. The gang had stolen four Boleros since June. Out of the four vehicles stolen, two have been recovered. The first one was abandoned and the second was recovered by a team of the special cell from Rilbong in the wee hours of Sunday. The five members of the organised gang who have been arrested are Nongthongbam Sanatemba Singh of Lakhipur (Cachar) Assam, Heru Das of Silchar, Rahim Rakuni alias Amit Das of Tripura. Many vehicle owners however feel they have been short-changed. “We understand that the Government of Meghalaya allowed Shimnit Utsch to come in without competition. As a result we have had to pay a very high price for registration” said an owner of several commercial vehicles.

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