Two days after Odisha police faced mob fury in Bhubaneswar over hefty challans under the recently amended Motor Vehicles Act, chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday announced partial relaxation for motorists for next 3 months. The relaxation period has been provided to motorists in order to allow time for preparing all the required documents.
“The Chief Minister has expressed deep concern over the public resentment which has been reported from some parts of the State, particularly Bhubaneswar, on account of enforcement of the provisions of the recently amended MV Act,” said a press release from Chief Minister’s office. “The CM 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.”
On Saturday, police in Bhubaneswar had to resort to lathi-charge after hundreds of people detained few government vehicles alleging that government was going easy on its own vehicles while imposing heavy penalty on private vehicles under the MV Act. From the day of roll-out of the Act on September 1, Odisha has reportedly collected penalty of over Rs 1 crore from errant motorists under the MV Act with auto-rickshaw driver and two wheeler riders fined anything between Rs 23,000 to Rs 47,500. Last week, a truckdriver in Sambalpur was fined Rs 70,000 for a slew of violations under MV Act, including overloading.
The enforcement activities by the transport authorities and police have triggered large-scale resentment. Several have highlighted lack of awareness drives by the state government before setting the new MV Act into motion.
The chief minister asked the state transport department officials to augment public services, strengthen the facilitation centres, open extra counters, conduct camps in public institutions to enable the motor vehicle users to update their compliance status. “This process will continue over the next 3 months so that adequate time is made available to the public to ensure compliance. Massive Road Safety awareness campaign will be carried out to sensitise public on the new norms,” he said.
State transport secretary G Srinivas said the relaxation was a purely administrative measure to reduce public discomfort. “We are not lessening the penalty amount under the new MV Act as it is a central law and everyone is bound to follow it. We are only trying to implement the Act in a better way and helping the people avoid difficulties,” said Srinivas.
However, the transport secretary made it clear that when it comes to issues like drunken driving and wrong-side driving, no leniency will be shown and the violators will be prosecuted under the amended MV Act.
The Odisha police had arrested 38 people for drunken driving on Sunday.
However, state commerce and transport minister Padmanabha Behera said the state government would write to the Centre to further amend the Act so as to bring down the amount of fine imposed on traffic violators. “The fine amounts are too high. We can not change the central Act on our own. So we would write to the Centre about it,” said Behera.