Bhubaneswar: Keeping in view the rising public resentment across the state over the provision of hefty fines in the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019, the Odisha government on Monday relaxed implementation of the new traffic rules for three months. The government also said it would soon consider reducing the fine amounts.
The move comes two days after scores of people, who were fined for violating the new traffic rules, clashed with a team of law-enforcing police officials in Bhubaneswar. An MLA of Odisha’s ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) was also fined for parking his vehicle in a no-parking zone by the side of a thoroughfare in Bhubaneswar on Sunday. The MLA from Bhubaneswar-Central constituency, Ananta Narayan Jena, had to pay a fine of Rs 500.
The government had on Friday relaxed the rule for possession of pollution-under-control (PUC) certificates for a month after facing huge outcry against its strict implementation by the authorities since September 1. Under the new law, a violation of air/noise pollution by a vehicle – two-wheeler or four-wheeler – attracts a fine of Rs 10,000 from its owner.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who was seen abiding the law by wearing a seat-belt while travelling in his official car on Friday, ordered the three-month relaxation as a way to allow people time to comply with the traffic norms.
“The chief minister has directed the enforcement agencies not to aggressively go on an overdrive but rather counsel and handhold the public to facilitate compliance with the amended provisions of MV Act,” said a release issued by the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) on Monday.
The CMO also asked the state transport department to augment public services, strengthen the facilitation centres, open extra counters and conduct camps in public institutions to enable motor vehicle users to update their compliance status.
Odisha’s commerce and transport minister Padmanabha Behera, who had said three days ago that enforcement of the new traffic rules and enhanced fines was “for the good of the people,” said on Monday that the government is now considering to simplify the new law and reduce the fine amounts.
“We feel that the fine amounts in the new law are too high. It is natural for the people to be resentful of the high fine amounts. We will soon decide what changes in the law we can make in order to simplify it and reduce the amounts of fine for various violations of traffic rules,” the minister told News18.
BJD legislator and party spokesperson Pratap Keshari Deb had said on Sunday that the state government would raise before the Centre the issues faced by the common people while using their motor vehicles. The amended law being implemented needs further amendment, he had said.
State rural development minister Sushant Singh had said on Friday that “discrepancies in the new law” must be removed in order to help the ordinary people using motor vehicles.
“Changes in society are not brought about simply by enacting laws. Society changes faster than law, and the law often has to catch up. The state government should have started implementing this new law after considering the mindset and financial capabilities of the state’s people,” said Sudarshan Nayak, a retired commissioner of excise.
(With inputs from Manas Mishra.)