Accidents happen not because of bad roads but because the roads are in a good condition, one of the three Deputy Chief Ministers of Karnataka said, in a bizarre explanation on his government's decision to reduce the steep fines for traffic offenders that was introduced by the centre under an amended law.
"Every year, around 10,000 accidents are reported in the state. The media blames it on bad roads. But, I believe it is due to good roads," Deputy Chief Minister Govind Karjol told reporters in Kannada.
A number of states including BJP-ruled states such as Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa have decided to slash the heavy fines on "humanitarian" grounds.
"A majority of the accidents occur on highways. I don't support levying high fines. We will make a decision on the revision of the fines during cabinet meetings," Mr Karjol said.
Govind Karjol and two others - Dr Ashwath Narayan and Laxman Savadi. - were appointed three Deputy Chief Ministers in BS Yediyurappa's cabinet last month. Mr Karjol is also the PWD and social welfare minister.
The hefty fines for traffic violations have triggered worry among motorists across the country. Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari had said last month that the new law aims to instill fear in people who violate traffic rules, since an "intelligent traffic system" will monitor offences.
Under the new rules, the fine for drunk driving has been hiked from Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 10,000. Fine for driving without a seat-belt has been hiked from Rs. 100 to Rs.1,000. Using cellphones while driving can invite a fine between Rs. 1,000-5,000 - up from Rs.1,000.
Mr Gadkari on Wednesday admitted that individual states have the right to slash fines at their end, but maintained that they would be responsible for any repercussions arising from such a decision. "Isn't life more important than money for the states that refuse to enforce the fines? This was done to save lives," he told NDTV in an interview on Wednesday.
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