Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Traffic cops flex muscles against BMTC

Traffic cops flex muscles against BMTC
Muthi-ur-Rahman Siddiqui, Bangalore, May 24, DHNS:

Gone are the days when the traffic police's resolve used to fluctuate many times before penalising an errant BMTC driver for violation of road rules.

With the setting up of automation centres at all traffic police stations in early 2009, police have literally tightened the noose around the necks of BMTC drivers who are used to violating the rules with impunity and get away without paying any fine.

As a result, drivers working under tremendous stress to complete their trips are helping the police rake in the moolah. Which is the reason why police collected a whopping Rs 36,07,900 for traffic violations from the BMTC from February 2009 to April 2010. Says SA Pasha, ACP (Traffic Training Institute): “With a very large fleet strength covering lakhs of kilometres every day, the BMTC has ended up paying huge fines for traffic violations committed by its drivers."

The money, however, is deducted from the concerned driver's salary in monthly installments. Contrasting the current system of collecting the fine amount from the BMTC with that in force before 2009, Sajjad Khan, Police Inspector (TTI-Administration), said "Sending a notice on traffic violations to the BMTC used to take four-five days. Then, it would take another week to reach the table of the Managing Director, who, in turn, would take a fortnight to reply," he told Deccan Herald.

Terming the earlier system as "precariously tedious", Khan added "Then, the personnel in charge of receiving the notice from us hardly bothered to forward it to the MD. They were, in fact, hand in glove with many drivers violating the rules." Now, with total computerisation in the BMTC as well as the traffic police, the former pays two-three lakhs as fine each month to the latter. Compared to this, the fine collected earlier is peanuts, he informed.

The stringent action by the traffic police also means that the BMTC drivers are always watchful of breaking the rules. Although drivers still jump signals, break one-way rules in the night and are involved in fatal accidents, such incidents have decreased over the last two years. "Lack of leniency in imposing the fine on errant BMTC drivers has also meant that there is less number of accidents involving these buses," Khan added.

Earlier, drivers used to think that "the police are lenient and don't muster courage to fine a government vehicle for any violation". The situation, however, has changed completely, he said. According to him, the very aim of collecting the fine was to make the bus drivers "feel the pinch".

An interesting aspect of the traffic violations is that there are a number of buses against which cases of violations are pending. "Whenever a bus breaks any rule for the second time, the BlackBerry starts beeping. Then, we immediately send another notice to the BMTC asking it to remit the fine without fail. If they don't, we seize the vehicle," Khan informed.

According to a source, drivers of many buses have to pay Rs 2000-3000 as fine to the traffic police. Asked about the reasons for these violations by the drivers, Khan said that the police had been asking the BMTC officials to reduce the number of trips assigned to drivers so that they are less stressful and drive carefully.

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