HT Exclusive: Red beacons put ministers under spotlight

  • Kailash Korde, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Jul 12, 2016 01:28 IST
PWD (public undertakings) minister Eknath Shinde also has got a red beacon on his private car. (HT)

A red beacon on a car works like magic on a busy road – traffic cops scramble to clear the way. It’s not just that – there’s the thrill of whizzing past the not-so-fortunate with the light flashing and the siren blaring. Who cares for the muttered curses of those left behind?

Small wonder that they are much in demand. Any politician or bureaucrat worth his or her name usually manages to get one.

A year ago, Transport Minister Diwakar Raote made headlines when he stopped two women constables on Marine Drive for riding a bike without wearing helmets. The minister ensured that the two constables were fined for violating rules. Now activists are wondering who will impose a fine on Raote for violating the rule that says red beacons can only be fixed atop a vehicle provided by the government.

And how will he ask his colleagues in the state cabinet not to violate the same rule?

Raote now uses his son’s Mercedes with a red beacon atop instead of the Honda City the government allotted him.

Before this, he used a Toyota Innova (MH 06 P 9999), which was his personal vehicle. After it met with an accident at Lower Parel on January 6, 2016, he has been using his son’s Mercedes.

Women and child development minister Pankaja Munde, too, flouted the rule for her private vehicle. (HT)

PWD minister Patil’s car, too, does not have the sticker. (HT)

Following a Supreme Court directive to curb use of red and amber beacons by government officials, the state transport department issued a government resolution (GR) on April 4, 2014, listing the rules for the use of such beacons.

Section eight of the GR, signed by the then Transport secretary, Shaileshkumar Sharma, reads, “The use of Red or Amber or Blue light is applicable only for the sanctioned vehicles assigned to the post or to the respective department.”

The GR also made it mandatory that the Transport Commissioner issue an authorisation to use a particular car with a red or amber beacon. This would be in the form of a ticker on the windscreen of the vehicles.

Even this condition is not followed by many ministers, beginning with Raote himself. The sticker is on the windscreen of his personal car and not the official one.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has been provided a bullet-proof Tata Safari by the government, but it does not have the Transport Commissioner-issued sticker.

Chief Secretary Swadheen Kshatriya’s official vehicle also does not have the sticker on its windshield.

The penalty for violating the beacon rule is a nominal Rs100.

The state government has sent a proposal to the Central government for increasing the fine.

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