Friday, April 14, 2017

Govt vehicles escape penalty as traffic dept has no means to punish the violators

Pune Mirror‎‎: Pune: Friday, April 14, 2017.
RTI plea reveals zero data; DCP says cops are still in talks with departments for one-point contact for sending e-challan over texts.
Garbage pick-up vans, anti-encroachment vehicles belonging to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), as also other government departments, can zoom past a red signal or drive recklessly which is otherwise quite common as the police are yet to find an appropriate method to penalise them. On the other hand, when it comes to violators using private vehicles, a hefty fine is slapped by the men in khaki.
The special drives initiated by the police last week to instill traffic discipline among citizens using a network of CCTV cameras and sending e-challans in the form of instant messages describing rule violation seem to be skewed. According to the traffic police, there is no single point of contact in various government departments to whom the law-keepers can send messages when government vehicles break traffic rules. This simple communication mismatch has become a roadblock for the police, preventing them from taking any action against government vehicles.
Azar Khan, an activist, recently filed an application under the Right to Information Act (RTI) with the traffic police to find out how many government vehicles, especially those belonging to the PMC, have been prosecuted. But he did not get any figure in the reply.
Speaking to Pune Mirror, Khan said, “We have seen several government vehicles violating traffic rules. In the city, we get to see lots of PMC-owned vehicles, such as vehicles of antiencroachment department, garbage collection and even water tankers breaking rules but we have hardly seen traffic police prosecuting these. In most of the chowks of the city, we see that only private vehicles are being stopped by the traffic police and fine is being collected from them.”
“After the traffic police introduced this new system of e-challan, where they send texts to vehicle owners for flouting traffic rules, I filed an RTI with the traffic police, seeking information about how many PMC-owned vehicles have been prosecuted by them. However, I have a reply from them stating they have been taking action against government vehicles but they do not have specific data of how many of the vehicles belong to the government,” Khan said.
According to traffic police, around 1,500 vehicle users have already been prosecuted through the e-challan system since its launch about a week ago. However, all these vehicles which have been prosecuted are private vehicles.
Khan claimed that the traffic police have computerised records and they can easily figure out from the vehicle registration number which are government vehicles. “The government- owned vehicles have specific Regional Transport Authority (RTO) registration series and they can be easily identified by the police. However, I feel that since the traffic police are not taking any action against the governmentowned vehicles, obviously they do not have any such data available with them,” Khan said.
When Pune Mirror contacted deputy commissioner of police (traffic) Pravin Mundhe, he also admitted that the traffic police are still working out a plan to prosecute government vehicles. Mundhe said, “Unlike private vehicles, the government vehicles are not registered against any individual. Therefore, finding a driver’s mobile phone number through the vehicle registration number is not possible. Since we do not have any specific mobile number, we cannot really send an SMS about traffic rules violation to the person concerned of that department.”
“We are trying to reach out to various government departments in the city requesting them to appoint one-point of contact so that if the vehicle of that particular department violates traffic rule, we can send an SMS to that one person who has been appointed by that department. The process is still on and a final solution is yet to be found,” Mundhe added.