Representative image
Representative image

Bhubaneswar: Odisha government has decided to relax penalty norm under new motor vehicles act for a period of 30 days, beginning Friday, for air and noise pollution, following public outcry over imposition of heavy fines on violators of traffic rules, an official said.

On July 31, Parliament had passed the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 that had provisions for stricter and heavier penalties for violations in an attempt to improve road safety. The Bill got President's assent on August 9 and is applicable pan India from September 1.

"In view of long queues for pollution test in the state, the government has decided not to charge Rs 10,000 as penalty for air and noise pollution from violators for the next 30 days. This is effective from September 6," he told reporters here. Under the new legislation, the violation of PUC (pollution under control) norm invites a penalty of Rs 10,000 as against the previous rate of Rs 1,000 on the first violation and Rs 2,000 for the second one.

Urging people to get pollution testing certificates in the next 30 days, Srinivas said traffic police and RTO officials should not harass commuters and vehicle owners for not furnishing PUC certificates. "The officials will have to pay double the amount as penalty under the provision of the new act, if found guilty," he said.

The state government's action came in the wake of the hue and cry across the state for imposing a whopping penalty for violation of the traffic rules under the new act. A drunk auto-rickshaw driver in the city on Wednesday was fined Rs 47,500 and another driver was penalised with Rs 27,500 on Thursday for violation of traffic norms under the act.

Odisha's transport department, during the last four days, has issued 4,080 challans for violations of traffic rules with a total collection of Rs 88.90 lakh and seized 46 vehicles. The imposition of hefty penalty has also been strongly opposed by Odisha's Labour and Employment Minister Sushant Singh.

"There are discrepancies in the new MV Act. The penalty amount is the same for both two-wheelers and high-end cars. How can it be possible," the minister said. Odisha unit of CPI demanded an all-party meeting before implementing the new MV Act. "This is an attack on the people by the centre. Five states are not implementing this act. We strongly oppose it and the amount of penalty should be reduced immediately," CPI state secretary Asish Kanungo said.

Senior CPI(M) leader Janadran Pati said the transport federations of eastern states will meet at Puri on September 23 and 24 to chalk out a plan for "opposing the anti-people MV Act". Odisha Auto Mahasangha President Naba Mohanty also opposed the new act and threatened to go for a strike. B C Sethi, a BJP MLA, criticised the state's BJD government for "failing to provide adequate facilities" to people for pollution tests.

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