The project under the Nirbhaya Framework known as the Vehicle Tracking System (VTS) project is to ensure safety and security for women and children travelling in public transport systems.
The Ministry had mandated Vehicle Tracking System (VTS) device and emergency buttons are fitted in all public service vehicles registered on or after January 1, 2019.
In Manipur, the VTS funds have already been sanctioned, yet the scheme has not started yet. What is the misunderstanding between the Transport Department and Implementing Agency, MANITRON that led to the delay of the Centrally sponsored scheme?
MoRTH issued a guideline on 15th January 2020. Under this guideline, the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS), Delhi was appointed as the National Project Management Unit (PMU) for “Development, Customization, Deployment and Management of State-wise vehicle tracking platform for Safety and Enforcement as per AIS 140 Specifications”, in States and UTs.
The guideline also directed the concerned the State and UT govt to appoint (a) Its own Implementing Agency to deign, develop and deploy a Monitoring Centre, and (b) Its own Project Management Consultant (PMC) or can use the DIMTS for providing state-level PMC services. However, the cost of appointment of DIMTS as the state PMC shall be borne by the State government.
This means that in case the DIMTS is appointed as the Project Management Consultant, the State government shall incur an additional expenditure of nearly Rs. 2 (two) crores during the two year period of this project implementation.
Responding to this MoRTH guideline, the Manipur State Cabinet has selected the MANITRON as Implementing Agency in June 2021.
However, before this appointment of the MANITRON as the Implementing Agency in June 2021, the Joint Director of Transport Department on behalf of the Govt of Manipur inked an MOU with the DIMTS, Delhi appointing DIMTS as Project consultancy services (PMC) for the project vide its letter no. 14/1/2020 – T(MV) dated 18th August 2020.
With all formalities complete, DIMTS has been the official PMC of the said project w.e.f. December 2020 till December 2022 for which the state has to bear additional fees of Rs. 7,24,712 to the PMC every month which shall be increased by 10 % in the second year.
Therefore, the Joint Director, Transport signing the MoU with DIMTS much before the appointment of State implementing Agency MANITRON is questionable.
On 8th March 2021, the then Transport Minister, Vungzagin Valte proposed to the Chief Secretary, Govt of Manipur to transfer of Joint Director (Transport) out from the Department as it appears his involvement in the administration in collusion with a certain company.
It is noteworthy to understand that after almost 3 months of the appointment of the MANITRON as the Implementing Agency, the then Chairman of the MANITRON, Dr Yumnam Radheshyam on 6th September 2021 informed the Additional Chief Secretary (ACS), P Vaiphei in writing that the further appointment of DIMTS as the state PMC is not required and mandatory as the said DIMTS as the National level PMU and the NIC will suffice the required role and activities for which consultant fees have been paid for the project.
Knowing that the appointment of a PMC will result in a decrease in the fund for implementation of the Project, other states like Meghalaya, Jharkhand and Kerala have not appointed any PMC.
Delayed over the status of implementation of the Project in Manipur, the MoRTH had sent a letter to the Additional Chief Secretary on 17th December 2021 questioning why the State Implementing Agency MANITRON is not progressing, despite the funds being released to the Transport Department more than a year back.
The Ministry letter also mentioned that the timeline proposed for the Commissioning of the Monitoring Centre was December 2021, which got delayed by six months.
Considering the promise of the BJP Government of enhancing women’s safety in the State, the Ministry urged setting up the Monitoring centres under the VTS Project as the highest priority.
This Project of paramount importance should have been included in the 100 days programme of the present State BJP Government.