By Fakir Balaji
Bengaluru, Sep 14 : Bowing to public pressure and the partys state unit cadres demand, the BJP-ruled Karnataka government looks set to reduce the hefty fines imposed on traffic offenders under the recently-amended Motor Vehicles Act (MVA), 2019.
“Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa has directed Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi, who holds the transport portfolio, to study the Central government’s September 1 notification and reduce the steep fines on traffic offenders on the lines of Gujarat and other BJP-ruled states did or doing,” an official told IANS here.
Complying with the amended provisions of the MVA, the state government on September 3 notified the steep fines on the offenders and started penalising them from September 4 across the southern state.
“As there is a public outcry against the steep hike and demand to reduce the fines, I have told the transport department to reduce them suitably, as the people are feeling the pinch and seeking relief,” Yediyurappa told reporters on Tuesday, a day after Gujarat announced slashing them by 50 per cent.
“No decision has been taken yet to reduce the fines. As it is a policy move with financial implications, the cabinet has to decide the quantum of reduction and from when,” state Transport Commissioner K. Shivakumar told IANS.
An official team from the transport department went to Ahmedabad to study the Gujarat government’s revised order on September 10 and another team to New Delhi for clarifications on the provisions of the amended MVA from the Union Transport Ministry.
“The revised order will be notified as recommended by the cabinet or the chief minister. Till then, the police will continue to collect the fines as per the September 4 order,” asserted Shivakumar.
Endorsing the Chief Minister’s decision, Union Minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers D.V. Sadananda Gowda said the amended MVA had a provision to lower the fines, as the revised penalties in the amended Act are the maximum that can be imposed for various offences.
“As the MVA comes under the concurrent list, there is scope for the states to modify the penalties from the maximum recommended in its amendment. The Act was amended to create awareness for safe driving and following the traffic rules strictly to minimise road mishaps and deter offenders from risking their life,” Gowda told reporters here on Thursday.
Gowda, a Lok Sabha member from the Bangalore North constituency for the second term, said the provision to tweak the fines by the states was made in the MVA after a lot of debate and deliberation as road conditions and factors for mishaps differ from state to state.
A senior traffic police official told IANS that field inspectors had collected a whopping Rs 2,38,76,500 during the last nine days from offenders across the city and 84,000 cases of violations were booked till Thursday.
“Bikers and pillion riders are the worst offenders as they don’t wear the mandatory helmet, ride fast and many were booked for talking on mobile while riding,” the official said.
Among car users, many drive without fastening their seat belt, jump traffic signals and drive drunk beyond the permissible limit, endangering their lives and that of others.
This tech hub has 82-lakh vehicles, including 57 lakh two-wheelers and 25 lakh four-wheelers, making the city the third highest across the country in vehicle population and density after New Delhi and Mumbai.
As the state capital with 1.1-crore population, Bengaluru has about 80 per cent of the state’s vehicles, including commercial such as buses, truck, tempos and autos.
“The purpose of imposing heavy penalties is laudable as a deterrence and to abide by law and fear punishment, as there can be no compromise on safety and life of citizens at any cost,” public transport expert K.N. Srihari told IANS.
Following protests by angry citizens, vehicle users, offenders and other stakeholders over the steep fines, the party’s state leaders and cadres on September 9 urged the Chief Minister to reduce them by 50 per cent as Gujarat did to ease the burden on citizens and give them respite from the rising cost of living.
The MVA was amended after four to five years of consultations and deliberations among the states and passed unanimously in both the Houses of Parliament to minimise road accidents and casualties, as India has the highest number of fatalities (1,47,913 in 2017) the world over due to horrific roads, reckless driving and sheer negligence.
In Karnataka, fine for drag race is Rs 5,000 for the first offence and Rs.10,000 subsequently. Riding a motorcycle or scooter without helmet is Rs 1,000. For pillion, it is Rs 500. Drunken driving attracts Rs 10,000 penalty and pressing horn in silent zones Rs 1,000.
Similarly, fine for driving without license is Rs 5,000 as against Rs 500 earlier and driving vehicle without documents like insurance and RC book is Rs 5,000 as against Rs 1,000 till August 31.
“One of the major reasons for traffic incidents in Bengaluru is due to lack of road discipline, especially lane discipline, jumping signals and riding or driving at high speed when vehicular traffic is less,” said city police commissioner Bhaskar Rao.