eTransport – Mantra of New Faceless Services

Shri Joydeep Shome,
Deputy Director General & HoD,
NIC Delhi

The Year 2020 has been a very eventful one for the eTransport Project. When the world was grappling with the devastating blow of Covid, Team eTransport – comprising the core design and development team, support staff and the state level front-line warriors have been battling another crucial war - a transformational overhaul of the transport related services for citizen. The result is a spectacular elevation in the service delivery paradigm – which is a long over-due debt to the common citizen.

Two decades ago, Transport Sector of India took a baby step towards modernization with introduction of computers and automation of processes in RTOs of a few states. Slowly and steadily these baby steps have become confident strides bringing in substantive changes in the system, better services to citizen and creation of a comprehensive transport eco-system. But in the last one year, the strides have escalated into gallops resulting in massive qualitative enhancements in the service delivery mode.

Under the auspices of Digital India and through sustained initiative of NIC, MoRTH and States, the applications which were ones localized at the RTO-based servers and limited to core operations, have been extended to the general citizen, transporters and all stake-sholders in the eco-system. In 2015, the flagship applications - Vahan and Sarathi - were revamped and converted into a centralized, web-enabled system. Linkages with external systems were initiated and a wider eco-system was integrated. Other major systems like eChallan, mParivahan, PUCC, Homologation and so on were developed, each of which made the services more robust and comprehensive.

But the primary focus of the whole exercise is the common citizen and the goal is to facilitate “Ease of Service Delivery”. Transport sector, as a whole, was once known for its lack of transparency, complex processes and generally poor experience for the citizen. The first step towards mitigating this situation was to make bulk of the services online with facility for e-payments, document upload, scheduling of appointments etc.Close to 100 services related to vehicles and licenses were made online and implemented with state-level customization across most of the states/ UTs. This made significant convenience for citizen, who could now pay their taxes, or renew the DL or get permit issued with considerable ease compared to earlier situation.

However, the quest for betterment didn’t end here. A number of enabling factors kicked in during the last 2-3 years. First was the Amendment of Central Motor Vehicle Act in 2019, followed by amendment in Rules (CMVR) in 2020, which put into place a number of reform measures and reengineered business processes. Another factor was the amendment of Aadhaar Act allowing use of Aadhaar for various non-benefit services like Transport under its Good Governance provisions. This enabled adoption of Aadhaar based authentication, eKYC and eSign services to further streamline the transport service delivery to citizen.It is now possible to establish the identity and address of an online applicant of transport service through Aadhaar and so it is no longer necessary to call him/ her to the RTO for verification of ID or address proof. Aadhaar based eSign, which is an easy-to-avail Digital Signature Certificate, has been incorporated in the online services to digitally sign online applications and attached documents legally valid. Additionally, changes in the business processes also enabled cross-verification of required documents from the system itself and hence no need to demand and verify such proofs as required by the rules. And finally, adoption of advanced technology like face recognition enabled reliable identification the applicant of real-time basis and thus opened up many new opportunities.

All these factors culminated in what we know as the faceless or contactless service delivery and a very rapid adoption of this option by various states in the year 2021. For instance, in Delhi all transport services except Driving Test and Vehicle Fitness Test have been made completely faceless with zero RTO touch-point for the eligible citizen. Same trend has caught up in many other states like Punjab, Himachal, Assam, Odisha, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Chattisgarh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and so on. NIC eTransport team has customized the applications as per the specific requirement of the states and also made major changes in the back-end core systems to make the process work seamlessly.

A significant highlight is the inclusion of AI based face-recognition system to authenticate online users appearing in Learner License knowledge test. This facility, integrated with Aadhaar, has been adopted by a number of states allowing Learner License tests to be completely home-based and the issuance of LL fully automated and instant.

Another mentionable progress is the automatic termination of vehicle hypothecation through API based linkage of select banks with Vahan. There is no paperwork involved in this process and millions of vehicle owners across the country will benefit from this facility.

The efforts have also drastically reduced RTO foot-fall and the turn-around time for the verification and approval process. The freed-up RTO resources are now being re-deployed to more productive purposes like process monitoring and road-safety enhancement tasks.

In keeping with this major trend, the theme of this issue of NextMile is Faceless Service. The major achievements of states/ UTs in taking the transport services to the next level have been highlighted in the subsequent pages. This is also to recognize and appreciate the relentless efforts put in by the entire NIC eTransport Family – which is keeping its flag high in all states and driving the Transport Sector to meet citizen expectations in true spirit of Digital India.