Despite curbs, B’luru traffic dept collects record fines till May 31
Bengaluru traffic department has collected more money in fines this year till May 31, as compared to previous years, even though the city was under lockdown that extended up to two months, due to Covid-19 second wave. As per the records of the traffic police, this year, till May 31, 2021, the traffic police have collected ₹58.9 crores in fines.
In comparison, the fines collected for traffic violations was ₹99.5 crores in 2020, and in the year 2019, the amount collected was ₹89.1 crore. As per the traffic police’s estimate, the department could set the record for the highest fine collected so far, surpassing ₹112.3 crores in 2017.
The traffic police department pointed out various reasons behind the high fine collection rate. Ravikanthe Gowda, the joint commissioner of police, traffic, said that even though people were asked to stay at home, the number of violations of lockdown rules were high. “Since we didn’t have much traffic management duties due to the lockdown, police were able to book more violations,” he said.
On June 9, The Karnataka high court had allowed the police department to release over 1.5 lakh vehicles seized for violation of Covid-19 restrictions imposed across the state. The court noted that since a large number of vehicles have been seized, it would be difficult for the police to find adequate space to park these vehicles.
As per the data submitted to the HC, 137,503 two-wheelers, 7,432 four-wheelers and 7,123 other vehicles have been seized in the state so far. A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Suraj Govindaraj ordered that such vehicles can be released to their owners after verification of documents along with an undertaking and deposit of fines.
Junior rank officers say that apart from the violations of lockdown norms, there were strict instructions from the higher officers to increase the random checks of vehicles in the city, since January. “We have been asked to check documents of vehicles and also check if owners have any past violations against them. Many people have evaded paying fines have now asked to pay up during these random checks,” said an officer posted in Bengaluru east division, on the condition of anonymity.
People not paying fine has been a big problem for the traffic department and that is the reason for the increasing the random checks, said Gowda. According to the department documents, more than 9.5 million traffic violations amounting to ₹390 crores have remained unpaid for the past three years because these challans were sent by post.
“People were ignoring the challans issued to them. So, last year we began a drive to collect these fines by going to the violator’s home. The drive didn’t give the desired results. With more than ₹390 crore worth of fines, we have no options but conduct random vehicle checking across the city,” Gowda added.
Since the random document checks have increased, in an effort to add one more option for contactless enforcement, the Bengaluru traffic police have enabled payment of fine amounts using Paytm. Bengaluru Police commissioner Kamal Pant launched the service on July 5.
Earlier, there were options to pay traffic fines through Bangalore-one, BTP website and PDA machines. However, as the Paytm option is already in use in other states, the BTP decided to introduce the option in the city. Paytm has tied up with the traffic police to offer the payment option free of cost.
Also, since there were issues regarding difficulties in carrying the original documents, the Bengaluru Traffic Police has advised vehicle users to use digital documents and produce them using Digilocker or mParivahan mobile applications during vehicle checks.
“Documents such as registration certificate, driving licence, insurance, fitness certificate, permits, and emission test certificates can be downloaded onto Digilocker and mParivahan mobile applications. When asked by traffic police, vehicle users are requested to produce digital documents, which will help keep original documents safe and also weed out fake ones,” Gowda said.