- BJP-ruled Gujarat announced reduction in traffic fines on Tuesday
- Nitin Gadkari appealed to states against softening the new law
- "These fines are not for revenue but to save lives," he said
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari today appealed to states against softening a new law that imposes steep fines for traffic violations, a day after his own party's government in Gujarat slashed penalties. "This isn't a revenue income scheme, are you not worried about deaths of 1,50,000 people," the Road Transport minister said, without naming any state.
"If the state governments want to reduce the fines, is it not true that people neither recognise nor fear the law?"
The Gujarat government has cut the penalties by 90 per cent citing "humanitarian grounds". It is politically embarrassing for the ruling BJP, which championed the hike in fines, to have its own Chief Minister take the step at a time many non-BJP governments, like Bengal, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have refused to enforce the escalated fines.
Sources say Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani may face questions from his leadership.
Nitin Gadkari said all states should learn from Tamil Nadu, where road accidents were down by 28 per cent. "Some 2-3 lakhs are losing their limbs in these accidents, this is bad for the country. My appeal is that these fines are not for revenue but to save lives. We have the highest deaths," he said.
"There is a lot of change. There is a rush of people trying to avoid violating the law. This system will help save lives," added Mr Gadkari.
Explaining his decision to hack the fines against the party line, Mr Rupani said: "The fine amount for different violations proposed under the Central law is the upper limit. Penalty collection is not our objective. We want people to be safe. The Gujarat government will enforce the law strictly wherever it is needed. We will be lenient wherever needed."
Nitin Gadkari said while states were free to reduce the fines, these had been increased after a long period of 30 years. All stakeholders had been consulted before the new rules were put in place, he said.
"What is the value of a 30-year-old fine of Rs 100," the minister questioned.
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