'Fines for safety, not revenue; states can make cuts': Nitin Gadkari

‘Fines for safety, not revenue; states can make cuts’: Nitin Gadkari

According to Nitin Gadkari, the greater penalties are supposed to save lives instead of augment revenue. Union minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday defended the current growth in traffic fines, even as West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee joined Gujarat in declaring that her government won’t implement the revised penalties to rescue people from the extra burden.

Chief minister of Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Karnataka, BS Yediyurappa, also indicated in Bengaluru his government may update the penalties after obtaining the Gujarat government arrangement. In Maharashtra, which is dominated by a coalition of the BJP and Shiv Sena, state transportation minister Diwakar Raote reported the revised penalties weren’t being executed immediately as he had asked the Centre to reconsider them.

Gadkari’s remarks came a day after Gujarat said it was reducing penalties on 17 traffic offences, becoming the first nation to ditch the brand new penalties which have triggered calls by many states to get a rollback of the amendment to the Motor Vehicles Act.

On Wednesday, the Delhi government said it needed to offer respite to individuals from steeply increased penalties and will have a”conscious” decision on it. Transport minister Kailash Gahlot said the government was looking at how other nations were going on it.

Asked about the moves from the states on the greater road fines, Gadkari said:”We have not done this [amendment] to strengthen earnings. We’ve done this to save lives. If state authorities want to reduce it [penalties ], they’re welcome to do so.” He said that the amount of deaths due to road accidents was the highest in India.

Parliament passed amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act in its preceding session, increasing penalties in certain traffic offences by as much as tenfold.

In terms of the fines, there’s a gap, like from ~10 to ~100. So, the state authorities can take a decision in this respect.

In a meeting to television news channel NDTV, but the minister asked if life was not more important than money for the states”refusing to enforce the penalties”.

Delhi transport minister Gahlot stated on Wednesday that from 61 offences under the amended act, there are 27 on which state governments don’t have any say. However, in the event of staying 34 offences, the state governments concerned can exercise their discretion,” he added.

“We’re taking comments from all stakeholders. If desire is felt that penalties should be reduced we’ll have a conscious call. We wish to provide respite to the people,” he said in a media conference.

The minister said various measures were being taken to assist vehicle owners in view of hurry for Pollution Under Assess (PUC) certificates, including that the daily rush at PUC centers increased from an average of 15,000 to approximately 45,000 vehicles daily since September 1. Under the new law, driving with a PUC certification or having an expired PUC certification invites a penalty of ~10,000.

“We’ve taken some steps to decongest these centers.

The Aam Aadmi Party government will open more PUC centers for which it has encouraged new programs, an official said, asking not to be named.

Joining the list of nations who have voiced concerns over the revised penalties, West Bengal CM Banerjee said the new fines were”too harsh” on the public. “We aren’t implementing the amended Motor Vehicles Act right now since our government officials are of the opinion that if we implement it, then it’ll be a massive burden on the people. It’s quite unpleasant,” she said.

Odisha, Kerala, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Telangana also have indicated they will decrease the penalties, though some states like Uttarakhand and Maharashtra are still scrutinising the law. Assam and Himachal Pradesh have stated they will continue with the tougher fines.

Karnataka chief minister Yediyurappa, who symbolizes the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said a cut in penalties from the country was imminent. I’ve instructed our officials that we’ll follow that order here too. Largely in about two-three days just like in Gujarat, here also we’ll attempt to decrease the penalties which are large,” Yediyurappa said.

Indian Youth Congress (IYC) president Srinivas BV stated they tried to present two old bikes and scooters to Gadkari to make him realise how people were forced to pay fines which were greater than the value of the old vehicles.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said that there were two parts from the MV Act amendment. “…One is a compulsory, non-derogable part. The non-derogable part relates to drunk driving, you can’t alter it by state level, it relates to some other serious offences, like I’m running you over intentionally or negligently hitting you in the car. I don’t think those should be answerable to change at the state level. The next part is things like minor over speeding or over packing your car or over loading your car that part is liable to be altered by countries.”

The state authorities’ move to oppose the revised street penalties has attracted criticism from some road crash survivors and victims’ relatives, who have called for rapid implementation of the amended law rather than agreeing to”political and commercial pressure”.

Harry Singh, a research scholar who had been paralysed from waist down after a motorbike crash, said:”I do not know why state governments aren’t implementing this act. Why are individuals focusing on greater penalties? Is the life of a taxpayer not important?”

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