Kathmandu, December 13
The Supreme Court (SC) today paved the way for the government to implement embossed number plates on vehicles, which had been stalled for almost two years.
Scrapping the writ filed by Bharat Kumar Basnet and Rajan Burlakoti against the embossed number plate system, the constitutional bench of SC justices today opened the door for the Department of Transport Management (DoTM) to implement the much-hyped high-tech vehicle number system.
DoTM had started to instal the embossed registration number plates on vehicles in Kathmandu valley from August of 2017. However, responding to the writ petition filed by Basnet and Burlakoti, who had demanded the use of Devnagari script on the embossed number plates, a single bench of Chief Justice Gopal Parajuli in February last year had issued a stay order and directed the government to pause distribution of embossed vehicle number plates.
Gogan Bahadur Hamal, director general of DoTM, said that the department will resume installing the embossed number plates in vehicles once it receives the full text of the SC verdict.
In April 2016, the government had inked an agreement with Decatur Tiger — a US and Bangladesh joint venture company — to print and supply embossed number plates. As per the pact, Decatur is supposed to instal embossed number plates on 2.5 million vehicles in Nepal within April 2021. However, the apex court had halted the process immediately after Decatur had installed such high-tech number plates on just 5,000 vehicles.
Under the Rs four billion project inked with Decatur, the company is also responsible to build vehicle tracking gates across 10 major entry points — five within the valley and five outside the valley. However, the government’s target to instal embossed number plates on 2.5 million vehicles and set up vehicle tracking gates by April 2021 is unlikely to be met now. Moreover, the delayed implementation of the project is also expected to increase the project cost.
“Though the implementation of embossed number plate on vehicles got delayed for long, we will expedite the process as soon as we receive the text of SC’s decision,” added Hamal.
Embossed number plates are chip-fitted plates affixed on vehicles. Such number plates are expected to help the government keep records of all vehicles plying the domestic roads, facilitate the government in controlling vehicle thefts, crimes or any other type of offence involving vehicles.
As per DoTM, two-wheeler riders can avail the embossed number plate by paying Rs 2,500, while four-wheeler vehicle owners have to pay Rs 3,600.
A version of this article appears in print on December 14, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.