Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday urged states not to weaken the amended Motor Vehicles Act that has provisions for steep penalties for traffic violations, NDTV reported. Gadkari’s appeal came a day after the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Gujarat reduced the fines.
“This isn’t a revenue income scheme, are you not worried about deaths of 1,50,000 people?” the minister asked at an event in New Delhi. He said all states should learn from Tamil Nadu, where road accidents were down 28%.
“To those states who are refusing to enforce the fines, isn’t life more important than money?” Gadkari asked during an interview with NDTV. “This was done to save lives. People need to have a fear of law. Why was the death penalty for rape after the Nirbhaya case? To create a fear of the law.”
The minister claimed “some two to three lakhs are losing their limbs in these accidents”. “This is bad for the country,” Gadkari added. “My appeal is that these fines are not for revenue but to save lives. There is a lot of change. There is a rush of people trying to avoid violating the law. This system will help save lives.”
The Gujarat government said on Tusesday that Rs 1,000 fine for riding bikes without helmet had been reduced to Rs 500, and so was the penalty for driving four-wheelers without a seat belt. The penalty for driving without a licence was brought down from Rs 5,000, as suggested by the amended law, to Rs 2,000 for two-wheelers and Rs 3,000 for four-wheelers. The government clarified that the reduction in penalties did not mean that the traffic police would be lenient towards people who break rules.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has also announced a partial relaxation in traffic violation rules for the next three months, giving vehicle owners time to sort out their documents.
Gadkari pointed out that states had the authority to revise fines, Mint reported. Asked if he could force states to toe the line, he told NDTV: “Those who want to enforce it can do it, those who don’t, need not.”
The amended law came into effect on August 9 but 63 clauses, including penalty provisions, were implemented from September 1. On the first day, 39,000 drivers were fined for several offences, including triple-riding, not following pollution norms and tampering with number plates.
Over the past week, the Gurugram traffic police fined a two-wheeler rider Rs 23,000 for flouting multiple rules, while an auto driver was fined Rs 47,500 for traffic violations in Bhubaneswar. A truck driver in Odisha’s Sambalpur district was fined Rs 86,500. On Tuesday, it was reported that a truck driver from Rajasthan was asked to pay Rs 1.41 lakh penalty after traffic authorities in Delhi caught him for several offences, including overloading.
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