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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

Mumbai traffic police’s E-challan scheme faces road block, only 50k of 8 lakh motorists pay fine

Mumbai city news: The glitch has now forced the police to look for temporary measures, like sending paper challans to the offenders through courier.

mumbai Updated: Jun 15, 2017 11:29 IST
Debasish Panigrahi
Debasish Panigrahi
Hindustan Times
(HT File)

The Mumbai traffic police’s ambitious SMS challan scheme seems to have hit a major road block with just 50,000 out of the 8 lakh motorists having paid the fine since January this year.

The glitch has now forced the police to look for temporary measures-- like sending paper challans to the offenders through courier or physically trace and summon them to chowkies to pay up-- before alternative arrangements are made.

“We are exploring several alternatives to collect the fines before a solution was found for the present hitch,” joint commissioner of police, traffic, Amitesh Kumar told HT.

Soon after 4,700 close circuit cameras were installed across the city in October last year, the traffic police control room started receiving live feed of vehicular movement on the arterial roads, highways and major junctions. Some of these cameras, installed at major junctions and inter-sections, are pan-tilt zoom cameras capable of recognising number plates of vehicles in stationary or moving position.

Read: Mumbai traffic police to go cashless for fines

This technology enabled the traffic police to start sending challans to offenders over SMS since January this year by collaborating with the Road Transport Authority (RTO), which maintains the telephone (mobile) data bank of the motorists. As soon as the personnel monitoring the cameras at the traffic police control room scan the culprit vehicle’s registration number, it is sent to another set of monitors where the telephone number of the vehicle owner is traced from the RTO data bank. Within seconds the e-challan (denoting the fine) is generated and the text message is sent to the mobile phone of the motorist through SMS. Following the receipt of the challan, the motorist is expected to pay the fine at the chowkie as directed in the challan.

Sources in the traffic police said that the compliance to the SMS challans has been abysmally low ever since it’s launch in January this year. Fines for only 50,000 out of the 8 lakh challans have been deposited so far. “While in majority of the cases the non-compliance has been deliberate, in other cases the problem occurs when telephone numbers were not updated after the vehicle was sold by the original owner. Also change of mobile number by the vehicle owner without intimating the RTO is the other factor resulting in the plague,” a senior traffic official said.

Read: Mumbai joins list of cities using CCTV to issue e-challan for traffic violations

As an immediate solution, the traffic police have earmarked a plan of action which will be implemented in a phased manner. First, 500 repeat offenders have been identified against whom more than 2,700 challans are pending at present. “These are the repeat violators against whom 5 challans each, or more, have been pending over the months,” Joint commissioner Kumar said. Traffic chowkies have been given the list to physically trace the address of these motorists from RTO records and summon them to pay up the fine.

In the second phase of the drive, the traffic police would set it’s target on 2,700 more motorists against whom 3 or more challans (each) are pending (total 6,000 challans). “We want to send a message to the violators that there is no let up,” said Kumar.

Meanwhile, another traffic police official said that the glitch has forced the department to look for alternatives. “We are exploring options like approaching the (vehicle) insurance companies for phone number updates of motorists. Side by side, we are also in discussion with private courier companies for sending paper challans at the addresses of the offenders,” the official added.

Read: Mumbaiites, breaking traffic rules? Cameras are watching you

However, officials are unsure about the feasibility of sending couriered challans due to the cost factor. “Who is going to bear the Rs20-25 spent over sending the challan by courier? While we can ill afford to bear the cost, levying it on the recipient (motorist) is beyond the ambit of the present law,” the official said, adding, “Laws are anyway subject to change as per need.”

First Published: Jun 15, 2017 11:12 IST