Those riding two-wheelers without a helmet can no longer buy fuel at petrol pumps, courtesy the state government’s new No Helmet No Fuel rule.
Transport minister Diwakar Raote, while announcing the decision in the state Assembly, said allowing unsafe riders to refuel their two-wheelers was like encouraging them to ride without helmets. “The decision was taken in accordance with the guidelines laid down by a road safety committee appointed by the SC,” he said in the state Assembly. He also said policemen, who do not follow traffic safety rules will also face action.
The minister said the state has already made helmets compulsory for both the rider and the pillion rider.
A few other states such as Kerala will implement the policy from August 1. Around 4,500 petrol pumps have been asked to implement it in Maharashtra. The pumps also have to display boards at their outlets informing customers about the decision.
Petrol pump operators, however, opposed the move saying it was not their job. “We had a meeting with senior police officers of the Mumbai police commissionerate about implementation at 223 petrol pumps in the city on an experimental basis. But implementation across the state was a unilateral decision taken without taking us into confidence. We do not have any right to deny petrol. The denial will lead to unwarranted brawls,” said Uday Lodh, president, Federation of All Maharashtra Petrol Dealers Associations.
Lodh also said the government was shifting police responsibility on to their shoulders.
An official from the transport department expressed doubts over how the decision can be implemented. “We have made helmets for pillion riders mandatory in the state, but nothing has happened beyond a few drives,” he said.
Meanwhile, the state government has also warned the police personnel to follow road safety and traffic rules or face the action. When Nationalist Congress Party legislator Ajit Pawar raised the question over police personnel and officers riding their two-wheelers without a helmet, Raote said the police force has been directed to mend their ways. “Strict action will be taken even against the police personnel found violating traffic rules,” Raote said.