#Throwback2019: Punekars fined Rs 80 cr for helmet rule violation

Nikhil Borkar
Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Additional Commissioner of Police Sanjay Shinde told Sakal Times, “Yes, the penalty amount for not following helmet rule is Rs 80 crore. We are taking several steps to recover the amount.”

PUNE: Two-wheeler riders have been issued e-challans by the Pune city police traffic branch for a whopping Rs 80 crore for not wearing a helmet. Officials said that over 16 lakh persons were issued the challans. However, the police are yet to recover Rs 59 crore of the total amount.

Additional Commissioner of Police Sanjay Shinde told Sakal Times, “Yes, the penalty amount for not following helmet rule is Rs 80 crore. We are taking several steps to recover the amount.” 

Early this year, Pune city police traffic branch began an aggressive drive to enforce helmet rule but were forced to downplay it due to political pressure after the citizens protested. Instead of catching people on the road for not wearing a helmet, the traffic cops started issuing e-challans based on CCTV footage and photo evidence. 

Under section 129 of the Motor Vehicle Act 1988, two-wheeler riders must wear a helmet. From January 1, 2019, Pune traffic police enforced mandatory use of a helmet. With the involvement of schools, colleges and active participation from the NGOs, the police also launched helmet awareness campaigns. 

MIXED RESPONSE
The mandatory drive received mixed response from citizens, activists and politicians. Protests and rallies were also held against the compulsion where people rode two-wheelers wearing the Puneri Pagdi instead of helmets. With this open rebellion, BJP leader and then MP Anil Shirole along with Pune Municipal Corporation corporators urged the then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to direct the city police to not implement the rule stringently but carry out public awareness drives. Since June, the traffic police have begun issuing e-challans based on CCTV footages of major chowks and photos clicked by police personnel as well as those sent by the citizens. 

The DCP (Traffic) Tejaswi Satpute while speaking to Sakal Times had said, “The aim is to save lives with the mandatory enforcement of the helmet rule.” 

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) spokesperson Ankush Kakade, Congress leader Mohan Joshi, MNS member Rupali Patil and others said that there is no need of mandatory use of helmets on narrow, congested roads with potholes of the city. 

Parisar, the NGO actively involved in traffic awareness campaigns, said that police presence at traffic junctions is an effective deterrent. Ranjit Gadgil, Programme Director, Parisar, said, “Most of the challans issued by CCTV remain unpaid and the police have no mechanism to track it and ensure fine collection. Therefore, the helmet compliance rate dropped by almost 20 per cent after the police stopped nabbing violators on the streets.”

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