Delhi LG Proposes Congestion Tax, E-Challans To Manage Traffic
Traffic violators lurk at every stretch of the Indian roads. Those in the habit of speeding and jumping traffic signals will now be less likely to go scot-free as Delhi’s traffic police officers will soon be equipped with body cameras to manage traffic violations in a better way. In most Indian cities, free traffic movement has become a thing of the past. As the government aims for building intelligent transport systems and new road networks, the Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi, Anil Baijal, announced about a proposal to levy a ‘congestion’ tax on vehicles accessing clogged and busy roads.
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Violation of the traffic rules such as talking on mobile phones, overloaded vehicles, over speeding and drunk driving, have been cited as major causes of road accidents than any other factor like road or vehicular defects. In 2016, under the category of drivers’ fault, accidents caused and persons killed due to ‘exceeding lawful speed’, accounted for 66.5 per cent (2,68341 out of 4,03,598 accidents) and 61 per cent (73,896 out of 1,21,126 deaths), respectively.
In December 2017, a parliamentary panel had recommended enactment of Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2017 prescribing body wearable cameras for traffic policemen and RTO officials. It said that this would help check corruption and reduce arbitrariness by enforcement agencies. The transport department in Delhi is planning to purchase body-worn cameras and has floated a tender. The cameras will live stream the on-field interactions between officials and motorists for real-time monitoring in the control room. The cameras will have all latest features like infrared night vision to track activities in the night as well as GPS, 4G and Wi-Fi enabled connection. A software will also be developed for reassigning new teams in different areas every two days for keeping stricter vigil on local violators. There are plans to provide the enforcement inspectors with e-challan machines. The new devices, to be integrated with the central database called ‘Vahan’, will also possess driving license and vehicle registration certificate reader.
The move will not only provide factual evidence in the form of video recordings but also encourage more civilized behavior among the citizens and dissuade officials from taking bribes.
Besides Delhi, there are other states who have already initiated the new system. Rajasthan, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have implemented a dealer registration system with stringent penalties imposed on fraudulent dealers. The panel which was a 24-member Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha recommended registration of vehicles by dealers and non-production of vehicles at RTOs to curb citizens’ woes, highlighting rampant corruption in RTOs and transport sector.
Informing about the introduction of new technologies in various states, the panel welcomed the use of electronic monitoring and road safety measures with devices like speed cameras, closed circuit television cameras, speed guns, body wearable cameras and others. Recently, traffic police in other cities like Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Bhubaneswar and Cuttack have implemented the body-worn cameras.
Gear up to pay for traffic congestion
In a ‘first-of-its-kind initiative’ in India, the Lieutenant-Governor (LG) of Delhi, Anil Baijal, made a statement on March 12, 2018 about the government’s plan to levy a toll on vehicles entering congested roads. Inspired by a similar system in Singapore and aimed at curtailing pollution and traffic jams on the choked city roads, the proposal will be reviewed by a group of experts. The quantum of the congestion charge and modalities of the implementation are yet to be conceptualised.
The LG had said that plan to declare some roads as one-way is underway. Baijal also announced about rolling out a new parking policy for Delhi, while informing that the draft has been presented in public domain for inviting objection and suggestions. The Delhi government is exploring possibilities of an electronic road pricing (ERP) to levy the charges automatically without manual intervention. Some corridors which were being considered include Aurobindo Marg, Andheria More, Nehru Place flyover, Modi Mills flyover, areas near Hauz Khas Metro station on the Outer Ring Road, ITO intersection, Mehrauli-Gurgaon road, Mathura Road and Pusa Road.