State will give relief to common man in Motor Vehicle Act: Diwakar Raote

Edited excerpts:

What is the status of implementation of the new Motor Vehicle Act in the state?

The newly-amended Act is not in force in the state. The government is aware of the public sentiment and their anger for the hefty fines in the Act. We are thinking whether this new Act should be implemented in the state or not.

We have also sought the opinion of the Department of Law and Judiciary if the implementation of this Act is mandatory for the state or not. If we have any freedom in its implementation, we will certainly try to give relief to the common man.

There should be a fear in citizens’ mind that if they violate traffic rules and laws, they will be punished with hefty fines. We will try to lower the fine or soften the punishment if the law permits. We will also try to balance the fine and the motive behind this Act.

The current decision to develop forts into hotels and wedding destinations has been caught in a controversy. It is being claimed that this decision was cleared by the state cabinet on September 3. What is your opinion on this decision?

I wish to make it clear that there was no such subject before the cabinet on September 3. The cabinet met only for 20 minutes. In that meeting, no decision regarding using forts for commercial use was discussed.

I am opposed to any such move or plan. I believe that forts are symbols of bravery and they should not be made symbols of a commercial market.

While speaking before PM Narendra Modi at the Metro function, Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray said that Maharashtra has become the first state to use an electric bus. How many such buses will be used by the State Transport Commission?

Yes. It's a proud moment for us that Maharashtra has become the first state to use a public transport bus having electrical coach. I always try to reduce pollution caused by public transport vehicles. When I was the transport minister in the 1995-99 government, I tried hard that petrol or diesel-based taxis should run on CNG.

To ensure this, I had offered Rs 25,000 as subsidy for all private taxies that were being used for public transport. This decision then helped to reduce vehicular pollution. The central government has launched a scheme to promote electrical buses in the country.

If these buses are used by state public transport, the Centre has offered a subsidy of Rs 60 lakh for each bus, which actually costs Rs 2 crore. We have decided to hire 150 buses.

After a prototype of the bus got an approval from the Centre, we recently commissioned the first bus into service. These buses will ply on 15 routes in the next three months. These routes include Dadar-Pune, Thane-Pune, Borivali-Thane, Pune-Nashik, Nagpur-Amravati among others.

What are the other measures to curb pollution caused by state-run buses?

Along with the introduction of electrical coach-based buses, we are soon introducing LNG fuel for buses. We will run 18,500 buses on LNG. Tenders have been issued to source the LNG supply. LNG fuelling stations will be set up at various key locations in cities.

These fuelling stations will also be available for the public. We will promote a practice that the public should use LNG as a fuel. I have also decided to install solar roof top panels in 609 state transport bus stops and depots.

This will help to generate solar power and reduce our use of thermal power, which ultimately will help to reduce pollution.

What is the reason to start Maharashtra State Transport Corporation’s (MSRTC) own hospital in Pune?

MSRTC has more than 1 lakh employees. After I assumed charge of the department, once I had to sanction Rs 35 lakh to airlift an employee by air ambulance to save his life.

In other cases too, I sanctioned more than Rs 50 lakh for the treatment of our employees. Instead of spending money on treatment in other hospitals, I felt we should build our hospital.

We are building a super speciality 100-bed hospital in Pune in a public-private partnership model. This hospital will have 25 per cent reservation for employees and their families and the treatment will be free. We are also planning to depute a air ambulance to airlift any employee or ST bus driver who needs urgent medical treatment.

You have announced a plan to set up an automobile engineering college in Pune. What is the status?

The automobile or mechanical engineers who joined MSRTC used to quit their job after gaining experience. Thus we thought to have our automobile engineering college.

This college will have reservation for children of our employees. We hope that these children will stay with the state transport as they will grow in this atmosphere. There was a condition that mandated six months experience in a garage for recruitment.

I changed this and made it compulsory that each student will work in our workshops for at least one year. This was opposed by some students and they approached the high court and Supreme Court.

Both courts upheld our decision. The Supreme Court praised the Maharashtra government for this excellent decision. The Centre too adopted this decision and instructed all states to follow this.

What is the response to your initiative to recruit women in MSRTC?

I found that the posts of women drivers in tribal quota remain vacant. We started training centres for these tribal women in Pandharkavada (Yavatmal), Chandrapur, Nandurbar and Palghar.

We trained them for the job of a driver and conductor too. Women have an inborn sense of care and motherhood. They drive with a sense of motherhood. The norm to be a driver was of three years of heavy vehicle driving experience with a licence.

But I waived off this condition for all women and made it only one year. The women who are currently recruited are drivers not having any experience of driving.

We are giving them a year’s training of driving that will be counted as a one-year experience. This is aimed to ensure more women drivers in the state transport, with a humane face and equality.

Do you think BJP and Shiv Sena should forge an alliance? Or they should contest alone?

Yes. I believe BJP and Sena should contest this election together. The opposition parties are almost weakened in the state. In the last five years, the BJP-Shiv Sena government has done a remarkable job.

If we go together, we will get a majority to form the government that will be strong. Shiv Sena has shown that even if we have only four to five ministers, we did an excellent job.The newly-amended Act is not in force in the state.

The government is aware of the public sentiment and their anger for the hefty fines in the Act. We are thinking whether this new Act should be implemented in the state or not. We have also sought the opinion of the Department of Law and Judiciary if the implementation of this Act is mandatory for the state or not.

If we have any freedom in its implementation, we will certainly try to give relief to the common man. There should be a fear in citizens’ mind that if they violate traffic rules and laws, they will be punished with hefty fines.

We will try to lower the fine or soften the punishment if the law permits. We will also try to balance the fine and the motive behind this Act.

The current decision to develop forts into hotels and wedding destinations has been caught in a controversy. It is being claimed that this decision was cleared by the state cabinet on September 3. What is your opinion on this decision?

I wish to make it clear that there was no such subject before the cabinet on September 3. The cabinet met only for 20 minutes. In that meeting, no decision regarding using forts for commercial use was discussed.

I am opposed to any such move or plan. I believe that forts are symbols of bravery and they should not be made symbols of a commercial market.

While speaking before PM Narendra Modi at the Metro function, Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray said that Maharashtra has become the first state to use an electric bus. How many such buses will be used by the State Transport Commission?

Yes. It's a proud moment for us that Maharashtra has become the first state to use a public transport bus having electrical coach. I always try to reduce pollution caused by public transport vehicles.

When I was the transport minister in the 1995-99 government, I tried hard that petrol or diesel-based taxis should run on CNG. To ensure this, I had offered Rs 25,000 as subsidy for all private taxies that were being used for public transport.

This decision then helped to reduce vehicular pollution. The central government has launched a scheme to promote electrical buses in the country.

If these buses are used by state public transport, the Centre has offered a subsidy of Rs 60 lakh for each bus, which actually costs Rs 2 crore. We have decided to hire 150 buses.

After a prototype of the bus got an approval from the Centre, we recently commissioned the first bus into service. These buses will ply on 15 routes in the next three months. These routes include Dadar-Pune, Thane-Pune, Borivali-Thane, Pune-Nashik, Nagpur-Amravati among others.

What are the other measures to curb pollution caused by state-run buses?

Along with the introduction of electrical coach-based buses, we are soon introducing LNG fuel for buses. We will run 18,500 buses on LNG. Tenders have been issued to source the LNG supply.

LNG fuelling stations will be set up at various key locations in cities. These fuelling stations will also be available for the public. We will promote a practice that the public should use LNG as a fuel.

I have also decided to install solar roof top panels in 609 state transport bus stops and depots. This will help to generate solar power and reduce our use of thermal power, which ultimately will help to reduce pollution.

What is the reason to start Maharashtra State Transport Corporation’s (MSRTC) own hospital in Pune?

MSRTC has more than 1 lakh employees. After I assumed charge of the department, once I had to sanction Rs 35 lakh to airlift an employee by air ambulance to save his life.

In other cases too, I sanctioned more than Rs 50 lakh for the treatment of our employees. Instead of spending money on treatment in other hospitals, I felt we should build our hospital.

We are building a super speciality 100-bed hospital in Pune in a public-private partnership model. This hospital will have 25 per cent reservation for employees and their families and the treatment will be free.

We are also planning to depute a air ambulance to airlift any employee or ST bus driver who needs urgent medical treatment.

You have announced a plan to set up an automobile engineering college in Pune. What is the status?

The automobile or mechanical engineers who joined MSRTC used to quit their job after gaining experience. Thus we thought to have our automobile engineering college.

This college will have reservation for children of our employees. We hope that these children will stay with the state transport as they will grow in this atmosphere.

There was a condition that mandated six months experience in a garage for recruitment. I changed this and made it compulsory that each student will work in our workshops for at least one year.

This was opposed by some students and they approached the high court and Supreme Court. Both courts upheld our decision. The Supreme Court praised the Maharashtra government for this excellent decision. The Centre too adopted this decision and instructed all states to follow this.

What is the response to your initiative to recruit women in MSRTC?

I found that the posts of women drivers in tribal quota remain vacant. We started training centres for these tribal women in Pandharkavada (Yavatmal), Chandrapur, Nandurbar and Palghar. We trained them for the job of a driver and conductor too.

Women have an inborn sense of care and motherhood. They drive with a sense of motherhood. The norm to be a driver was of three years of heavy vehicle driving experience with a licence.

But I waived off this condition for all women and made it only one year. The women who are currently recruited are drivers not having any experience of driving.

We are giving them a year’s training of driving that will be counted as a one-year experience. This is aimed to ensure more women drivers in the state transport, with a humane face and equality.

Do you think BJP and Shiv Sena should forge an alliance? Or they should contest alone?

Yes. I believe BJP and Sena should contest this election together. The opposition parties are almost weakened in the state. In the last five years, the BJP-Shiv Sena government has done a remarkable job.

If we go together, we will get a majority to form the government that will be strong. Shiv Sena has shown that even if we have only four to five ministers, we did an excellent job.

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