Traffic police at the prepaid auto center on Residency Road charge Rs. 1 from passengers in the name of "maintenance", although the center is maintained by a private firm free of cost.
Some of the prepaid auto centers in the city are now managed by IIHT, a private firm that provides computers, printing machines and printed tickets for the centers.
They also repair any hardware or software damage to the computers or printers free of cost and have their institute’s name painted on the counter and on the back of the tickets as advertisements.
However, the Bangalore City Traffic Police places their personnel to run the counters.
The constable at the prepaid auto counter on Residency Road said that they collect the service charge for maintenance of computers and printers and printing the tickets. However, all of that is done by IIHT already.
Kiran Ramesh, manager of IIHT, said: "We are involved in the entire process of building the prepaid center-right from planning the location, to getting the approval, to installing computers and printers and also maintaining them. It is a way of advertising and also providing service to the people."
He said he was unaware of any kind of service charge being taken on the Residency Road counter, and said the firm does not take any money from the traffic police nor the passengers to maintain and repair the counter.
Police caught off-guard
"All the prepaid centers in the city are run by the police free of cost, no service charge is being taken," said Nagappa, Assistant Commissioner of Police (planning). "The traffic police run the counters and the equipments are given by sponsors."
But at Ashok Nagar Traffic Police Station, under whose jurisdiction the Residency Road prepaid counter falls, when faced with visual evidence, police admitted taking a service charge.
"We collect the service charge to maintain some things like sometimes the wire will go off, sometimes the bulb of the place will go off," said Naveen, sub-inspector of police, Ashok Nagar. "Also, if there is any emergency, we cannot wait for anything. That time we use the money."
He admitted that all the maintenance and repair work related to the counter is done by IIHT free of cost, and said that the service charge is taken and used in case of an "emergency."
‘They put it in their pockets’
The auto drivers say no service charge should be collected from the passengers and that the policemen are corrupt.
"According to the rules, there should be no service charge," said Ghulam Nafeez, an auto driver. "It also happens near Mantri Mall. They put it in their pockets."
IIHT, for its part, said it was unaware of such a practice and that it could not do much as its work is restricted to providing the facilities and maintaining them.
"I do not know what instructions they have received from their seniors," Ramesh said. "Whether they charge Rs. 1 or not, I cannot tell them anything. I am not responsible for that." ⊕