Where a 0001 registration plate went for Rs.525,000
By Ritika Sharma, Mohali, March 13 : Here's proof that the 'money makes the mare go' adage is taking firm root in small towns. Had it happened in Chandigarh it would scarcely have been noticed but when an agriculturist-transporter forked out Rs.525,000 for a 0001 registration plate for his Mercedes Benz in this neighbouring town, it certainly raised quite a few eyebrows - never mind that it had happened before.
"I was always attracted towards 0001 as my car's registration number. If I can spend lakhs of rupees on buying a car then what is the harm in spending on a VIP number? I see it as a matter of pride while I drive around on city roads in my newly bought car with a VIP number," 35-year-old Ramesh Jhajj told IANS of his PB-65-U-0001 registration plate.
The bidding started at Rs.50,000 and Jhajj, an agriculturist who also runs a flourishing transport company, stayed ahead of the pack all the way to the end.
However, this is not the first time the Jhajj family has bought a fancy number.
"My father, who is an agriculturist, also has a liking for 0001. His vehicle also has the same number. Gradually I also developed the same fascination and even my mobile number also ends with 0001," Jhajj said.
The other numbers picked up during the auction included 0097 (Rs. 150,000) and 0009 and 9999 (both for Rs.145,000).
"This trend of spending money to buy VIP numbers has picked up only in the last one year; otherwise earlier there were not many bidders. However, now we have nearly a dozen bidders for all registration numbers in Mohali. This is a voice bidding process and it is conducted in an open room in front of various officials to ensure transparency," said a senior official of Mohali district registration and licensing authority.
This is not the first time that the 0001 number has been sold at a whopping price in Mohali. It went for Rs.950,000 in the PB-65-Q series, for Rs.470,000 in the PB-65-R series and for Rs.400,000 in the PB-65-S series.
"In Punjab only a car's make does not matter, but its VIP registration number has also become the style quotient. I also wanted to grab a 0001 number and participated in the bidding process till the Rs.400,000 mark and then withdrew myself. But I have managed to get 0011," said Mohinder Sandhu, an agriculturist and a resident of Mohali.
Punjab's Mohali town is some 10 km from the state capital Chandigarh, where the 0001 number fetches some Rs.700,000 to Rs.1,000,000 at auctions.
Mohali has a population of 150,000 against Chandigarh's 1,000,000.
(Ritika Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)