The Bombay high court had recently come down heavily on the transport department for not checking on ill-maintained vehicles regularly.
In the last twelve years, the number of vehicles has tripled, but the manpower in our department has not even risen by 20%. Earlier, thorough checks were conducted on vehicles when fitness certificates were issued, but this is not possible now. The high court asked us to file an affidavit where we brought this problem to the fore. The court asked the government to clarify its position on this and a proposal to increase the staff strength is now under consideration.
What about other issues such as overloading or absence of cleaners? In the recent Mankhurd accident, there was no cleaner to guide the driver.
Under the Motor Vehicles Act, powers are vested with the traffic and transport departments to check for violations. The traffic police don’t have the power to take action against overloading, cancellation of licence or cancellation of a vehicle’s registration. The main job of the Regional Transport office (RTO) is to issue of licences, fitness certificates, etc. On-road enforcement is the prerogative of the traffic police. We do not have enough manpower for on-road enforcement.
Unlike Mumbai, in other metropolitan cities such as Hyderabad, Delhi and Bangalore, there are ring roads to ensure that the heavy vehicles stays outside city limits. Are any similar measures being planned for Mumbai?
In the 1980s, it took a decade to move the markets from the main city area to Vashi. This substantially restricted the movement of heavy vehicles into the city. Now, goods are brought into the city only through tempo-sized delivery vans. We also have several other restrictions in place such as not allowing heavy vehicles inside the city during peak hours. Ring roads cannot be imitated in Mumbai because it is geographically very different. But several other measures are being taken to limit the heavy vehicle traffic.