Increased Traffic Fines Too Harsh, Won’t Apply In Bengal: Mamata Banerjee

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Kolkata: 

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today said that she will not implement the new law that imposes hefty fines for traffic violations, a day after BJP-ruled Gujarat slashed penalties.

Calling the amendments in the Motor Vehicles Act “too harsh” the Trinamool Congress chief said it was against the federal structure of the government.

“We had opposed amendments in Parliament. If we implement the Motor Vehicles Act amendments, it will hurt general people,” the chief minister told reporters in Kolkata.

Adding that money is the not solution, Ms Banerjee said that the problem needs to be looked at from the “humanitarian point of view”.

Saying that accidents have come down, Ms Banerjee also added that Bengal already has the “Safe Drive Save Life” campaign – a flagship programme of the Bengal government focusing on road safety.

Bengal is the third state to reject the centre’s new law.

The centre has contended that tightening the rules on traffic violations will help make the country’s roads safer. But state governments are not convinced. Gujarat, a BJP-ruled state has already slashed steep penalties on Tuesday.

Congress-ruled Rajasthan too is approaching the new provisions with caution.

Rajasthan transport minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas had said earlier this month that they can at least reduce the fines.

“The centre can pass a law. But we can review it… we cannot do away with the fines completely but we can reduce it at least,” Mr Khachariyawas said.

The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill cleared Parliment in July and came into effect on September 1.

Under the new rules, the fine for riding a two-wheeler without a helmet has been upped to Rs. 1000 from Rs. 100. Using cellphones while driving can invite a fine between Rs. 1,000-5,000 – up from Rs. 1,000.

For drunk driving, the fine has been hiked from Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 10,000. Speeding has a penalty anywhere between Rs. 1,000- Rs. 2,000.

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