Mumbai: Mumbai Traffic Police have begun initiating strict action against people violating the social distancing norms by occupying more seats in public transport and private vehicles than currently permitted. Police noticed that since private offices resumed operations at 10 per cent staff strength, many autorickshaws were ferrying more than the permitted two passengers and accepting share-auto fares. While many motorists were fined on the spot, vehicles of repeat offenders were seized.
After Mission Begin Again began earlier this month, many offices resumed work and employees had to either take BEST buses, which had severe restrictions on capacity, or travel by their private vehicle. However, those without private vehicles and unable to take a BEST bus, were compelled to travel by autorickshaws and taxis. However, it was being observed that many auto drivers were plying on share-auto basis, carrying 4-5 occupants, a clear violation of the rules laid down by the state govt.
Mumbai Traffic Police began a strict crackdown on such violators and have collected lakhs of rupees in fines and seized more than 100 autos. The impounded autos were, however released after five days.
A traffic official said, not only were offenders being fined amounts ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 2,200, depending on the nature of the violation, in case of repeat offenders, their vehicles too were being confiscated. While the violators are being booked under section 179 of the Motor Vehicles Act if found ferrying more than the permitted number of passengers, the drivers are additionally charged if found violating other safety guidelines like not wearing masks or arguing with traffic police when pulled over.
Recently, in a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, the Mumbai Taximen's Union (MTU) had said that around 1.5 lakh taxi drivers and over three lakh rickshaw drivers in the city were facing a financial crisis, due to which the lockdown rules that allow plying of only essential servicemen and only two passengers at a time should be lifted from July 1.