HC pulls up Maharashtra Govt for not acting on traffic plan

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday asked Maharashtra government why it was sitting on a proposal of the Transport Commissioner's office to empower traffic constables to impose fines on law-breaking motorists and auto riders.

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday asked Maharashtra government why it was sitting on a proposal of the Transport Commissioner's office to empower traffic constables to impose fines on law-breaking motorists and auto riders.

Currently, only head constables, numbering around 300 (in Mumbai city traffic wing), have the powers to impose fines on those found guilty of breaking traffic rules.

The HC was informed that in February 2012 a proposal was mooted in a letter by the Transport Commissioner's office to the state government suggesting powers to impose fines should be given to all traffic constables to bring about effective implementation of rules.

Hearing this, a bench, headed by Chief Justice Mohit Shah, asked the government why it was not acting on the over two-year-old proposal. As no reply was forthcoming from the state, the court asked the government to consider the proposal and inform it of its decision on December 15.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Bombay Bar Association highlighting traffic woes of the city and alleging haphazard planning by the state and the department concerned.

Advocate Armin Wandrewale, who intervened in the matter, said the constables should be empowered to levy fines. She also maintained there was no regular patrolling by police on state and national highways.

An 11-member committee, appointed by the High Court to analyse Mumbai's traffic woes, had identified 35 problem areas. The panel had said "haphazard, free or cheap parking" of vehicles generally led to snarls.

Compared to cities such as Hong Kong, New York and Bangkok, parking in Indian cities was much cheaper, said a report given by the committee.

In Hong Kong and New York, pricing is market-driven with monthly parking rates for a reserved space ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000. As a result, car ownership in such vertical cities is much lower than what the purchasing power of people in these urban centres would warrant, it said.

In Mumbai, there is ample free parking on roads and parking cost, levied by civic body, was as low as Rs 5 to Rs 20 per hour. With addition of 50,000 cars annually, besides two-wheelers, water tankers, school buses and commercial vehicles, the demand for parking space would go up each year, the report observed.