3 months on, Punjab drags feet on hike in traffic fines

The Punjab government is dragging its feet on the bumped up fines for violation of traffic rules even three months after the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019, came into effect.

3 months on, Punjab drags feet on hike in traffic fines

The hiked penalties have been implemented in states such as Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar

3 months on, Punjab drags feet on hike in traffic fines
         

The Punjab government is dragging its feet on the bumped up fines for violation of traffic rules even three months after the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019, came into effect.

The state authorities, particularly transport minister Razia Sultana, have reservations over the hefty fines stipulated in the amended law that came into effect from September 1 and are in favour of lighter penalties instead. The transport department held meetings and drew up a proposal in mid-September with fines lighter on the pocket of traffic rule violators after examining the steep penalties provided in the amended law. As per the initial proposal, reduced fines are being considered for traffic offences such as speeding, mobile use while driving and driving without licence and registration papers whereas no relief has been proposed in penalties stipulated in the amended MV Act for tipsy drivers and those blocking the way of ambulance or any other emergency vehicle.

However, the department has been sitting on the proposal since no timeframe has been indicated for the approval and implementation in the state. Principal secretary, transport, K Siva Prasad said the matter was under consideration of the government and no final decision had been taken on the fines to be imposed on traffic violators. “The department is also taking legal opinion whether the fines can be slashed or not before finalising them and issuing the notification,” he said.

Transport minister Razia Sultana did not respond to calls.

The hiked penalties have been implemented in states such as Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar whereas others such as Gujarat and Kerala have slashed the penalties to be imposed on erring drivers.

A state transport department official also attributed the delay in the implementation of the amended MV Act to the frequent transfer of officers. “The department has had three state transport commissioners in as many months. This has led to delay to some extent,” he said, requesting anonymity.

The state had ranked second in the country in severity (in simpler words, number of persons killed in 100 accidents) of road mishaps in 2018 as per the data released by the Union ministry of road transport and highways last month. With 4,740 deaths in 6,428 mishaps, the state had a fatality rate of 73.7 against the national average of 32.4 in the severity of accidents in the year gone by, going up from 71.1 in 2017. Also, speeding claimed seven lives a day on an average — 53% of all 4,740 deaths in crashes — on the state’s roads.

Data shared by Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari in the Lok Sabha last month showed a dip in fatalities in September and October in states and union territories, including Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Puducherry and Chandigarh, which have implemented the amended MV Act.

The fatalities have come down by 11.8% in Haryana, 9.8% in Uttar Pradesh and 10.8% in Bihar in two months. However, Punjab’s traffic adviser Navdeep Asija said there was no co-relation between steep fines and the number of fatalities in road crashes. “Better police presence on roads and the frequency of challans work better as deterrents. We need more policemen on the roads. In Punjab, the number of deaths in road accidents has gone down by 4.7% this year,” he said. In September and October, 810 deaths were reported in the state as compared to 834 during the corresponding period last year.

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