Union Minister Nitin Gadkari asserted that majority of the states are on board with regard to the new motor law and it is well within their right to make changes in penalties where a range of fines for traffic violations has been fixed. The Road Transport and Highways Minister said that by and large people have welcomed the new Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act and he is hopeful of reduction in the number of deaths related to road accidents. The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019, which provides for heavy penalties for traffic rule violations, came into force from September 1. However, some states reduced the penalties after reports of hefty fines by the police for breaking traffic rules hit the headlines.
It is a wrong "propaganda that states are opposing it...Barring one or two states there are no objections by the majority of states... I had a talk with the Chief Ministers of the States... Secretaries have talked to Chief Secretaries," Gadkari said on the sidelines of an event adding that states have rights for variation of fines under the new Act where a range has been fixed for fines. "This is in the concurrent list...if fine is fixed in the range of Rs 500 to Rs 5,000, states have the right for variation ... They can fix it Rs 600 or Rs 4,000. We have given them rights ... There is no problem," the minister said. Moreover, he said that the fines accrue to the kitty of state governments and the Centre has nothing to do with it.
The minister said that there was neither respect nor any fear of the law in a country which sees the death of 1.5 lakh people annually in road accidents with 65 per cent in the age bracket of 18 to 35 years. "The fines were not revised for the last 30 years ... Fine is given to states, not Centre - it is not an issue to raise revenue," he stressed and added that implementation of the new Act is bound to reduce accidents. The minister urged people to use EVahan portal for storing their documents like driving licence so that they can show it on their mobiles when asked by traffic pole.
Besides, he said that now the government was making it mandatory to get driving licences through computerised tests only. In addition, new technologies were being roped in for deduction of fines. Also, the cars are being made theft-proof as even if stolen numbers cannot be tampered with. The minister also said that a new National Transport Policy was on the anvil which will also see plying of high-quality double-decker buses on popular routes. Also, 2800 commercial places have been identified which can be developed as Bus ports on the public-private partnership model.
The minister also said that the new green expressway from Delhi to Mumbai being developed at a cost of Rs one lakh crore will be completed within 3 years and reduced the travel distance between the two places to 12 hours. He said a 10 km stretch on this green expressway was being developed as the country's first electric highway on a pilot basis and vehicles can ply on this stretch on electricity through cables.