Drivers parking their cars illegally on National Highways will be slapped hefty fines, their vehicles will be impounded and the vehicles will be auctioned off if the fines are not paid within a week. National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has been authorised by the Union Road Transport Ministry to crack down on illegal encroachments and parking. NHAI also has been given the power to take decisions on issues including prevention of occupation of highway land, removal of unauthorised structures, and recovery of the cost of removal of unauthorised occupation and fine imposed. NHAI now also has the power to refuse, regulate or divert any proposed or existing access to the highway and also gets power to decide temporary closure of traffic on highways.
Till date, NHAI did not have the authorisation to take action against vehicles parked illegally on the highway or in the service lanes. It only used to lift and sidestep vehicles. With the new notification, the highway authority is set to get added decision-making powers. “Under Section 24 and 27 of the Control of National Highways (Land and Traffic) Act, 2002, all project directors can take decisions on issues related to maintenance of land and traffic management on highways,” Times of India reported NHAI project director and highway administrator of Gurugram, Ashok Sharma saying. Along with NHAI, the road transport ministry extended decision-making powers on land and traffic management on highways to the National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL) and the national highway wing of the public works department in a recent notification.
“The project director of the National Highways Authority of India, general manager or deputy general manager of the National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited and the executive engineer of the national highway wing of the state public works department shall exercise the powers and functions of the highway administration conferred under sections 24, 26, 27, 30, 33, 36, 37 and 43 of the (Control of National Highways (Land and Traffic) Act, 2002) in respect of their respective territorial jurisdiction,” the TOI report quoted the notification stating.
“Police and other departments have been notified about these changes brought about by the Centre. They have also been made aware that NHAI authorities will start taking action on matters under its jurisdiction once all formalities are complete,” the daily quoted Ashok Sharma saying. A detailed standard operating procedure is being drafted, that will clearly spell out operations, penalty charges and guidelines for conducting trials of offenders. Once it is complete, the crackdown on illegal parking, encroachment and illegal hoardings will be stepped up. Violators will be given a week’s time to pay the fines and claim vehicles, failing which the vehicles will be auctioned to recover costs. For this, the NHAI is going to revive its trial room, where matters related to impounding and auctioning will be taken care of.
“The fundamentals of the work will be the same. The department will just have a say in matters and won’t just be an authorizer,” TOI quoted another NHAI official saying who further added that this will give more teeth to the NHAI project implementation units.