In Bihar, there is more to towing away a wrongly parked vehicle than merely following rules and procedure, a private agency tasked for the purpose has found.
The Swadesh Parking and Services agency, Anisabad (Patna), engaged to tow away vehicles stationed in no-parking zones of Patna, has claimed it has suffered a Rs 2.72 lakh loss in the past two months as it was dissuaded from realising fine from erring ‘VIP’ vehicle owners.
This happened on numerous occasions after traffic policemen received calls from persons in positions of authority, asking them to release wrongly parked vehicles without penalising them.
The agency has flagged the issue to Patna divisional commissioner Anand Kishor, who was instrumental in introducing the towing service last August to rid the state capital of traffic snarl-ups, often caused by haphazardly parked vehicles.
Confirming he had received the complaint, Kishor told HT, “I have asked the Patna district magistrate and senior superintendent of police (SSP) to look into it because it is essentially a police issue.”
SSP, Patna, Manu Maharaaj , said the traffic SP had brought the matter to his knowledge. “I told him not to pay heed to any ‘pairvi’ (request). I will get the matter inquired into and also speak to the agency concerned” .
Traffic SP, Patna, Prantosh Kumar Das, has since written to his subordinates, asking them not to release vehicles violating provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, without realising fine. HT has a copy of the letter.
“The agency had begun with 18 ‘Jam Busters’ (tow-away cranes). Having suffered losses, it has now reduced the number of cranes to 11. Our requirement for Patna is at least 20 cranes, besides some big ones to tow away trucks and buses,” said Das.
As per the terms of its engagement, the agency gets a towing charge of Rs 650 and Rs 450 for every four-wheeler and two-wheeler, respectively. Add to it the penal provisions under the Motor Vehicles Act, and the collective fine may even go up to over Rs 10,000.
But when policemen get ‘leniency request’ from VIPs, the agency loses the towing charge, even as it spends money on machine, fuel and manpower.
The other side of the story is that the agency has been facing severe public criticism for allegedly targeting only the ‘lesser mortals’ while levying fine. It is accused of turning a blind eye to wrongly parked vehicles of VIPs.
“No beacon fitted vehicle has ever been towed away though they are often found in no-parking zones. In fact, VIPs are the worst offenders. ‘Jam Busters’ move unmanned beacon fitted vehicles but only to align their cranes to tow away other private vehicle behind them”, said Rajeev Ranjan, a government hospital employee whose vehicle was towed away near Patna’s Hartali More last week.