Mumbai drivers reel from piled up traffic fine shock
Motorists say they have no clue they owe traffic dept fines that run into tens of thousands; Mumbai traffic dept says alerts sent regularly
Ever been caught by the traffic police and told you need to shell out a really huge fine? You are not alone. City motorists have been increasingly complaining about not knowing when they have violated traffic rules and being surprised months later with fines that run into thousands.
Recently, an architect from south Mumbai, who does not wish to be named, travelling from Marine Drive was stopped on the sea link on suspicion. When the traffic cops were feeding in the details in order to e-challan him, they discovered that he owed R60,000 in fines. The motorist was shocked as he had not received a single alert on the alleged previous offences. He, however, was allowed to go after he had paid R30,000 (an online payment).
Auto and taxi drivers say they often learn about hefty backdated fines only when they are either stopped by the traffic cops or visit the traffic office. File pic
A traffic police officer said, "He was only able to pay R30K and we told him to pay the remaining amount later. We have seized his driving licence, but he hasn't yet paid the remaining amount." As per a recent RTI, till Jan 10, 2019, since the time e-challan came into existence, of the Rs 228,18,82,286 in fines for traffic violations, the traffic department has not received Rs 153,44,62,735. The prime reason behind such huge pending fines is also that the people are unaware of the fines getting accumulated in their names.
Most motorists have the same complaint, about not getting any alert message on their mobile phones from the traffic department, but the fines get accumulated in their account. Apart from motorists, auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers, too, have been complaining about being at the receiving end.
Shashank Rao, auto union leader, said, "We have been getting several complaints from our auto-rickshaw drivers that when they visit the traffic office, they get to know that there are pending e-challans against them. It is too much of a burden for them to pay high outstanding fines. Most times, drivers are wrongly sent e-challans. Like sometimes they are issued challans for not stopping their vehicles before the zebra crossing, but at many locations, zebra crossings are not properly visible. We have complained to the traffic department but nothing has changed."
AL Quadros, general secretary, Mumbai Taximen Union, agrees. "We have been receiving innumerable complaints from taxi drivers about the pending e-challans in their name. They get to know about the money part only once they are caught red-handed by the traffic cops. It becomes tough for them to clear dues as many of them work in shifts"
Amount traffic department has fined motorists since e-challans began
Total amount in fines drivers owe traffic department till Jan 2019
How to find out about outstanding e-challans
Mumbaikars are expected to download the AppMumTraffic app and have to enter their vehicle number as well as the last four digits of the chassis/engine number. Once the details are keyed in, the user gets to know the date and time along with the image of their vehicle that had broken the traffic rule. According to the traffic police, they have a fool-proof system in place and the onus is on civilians to track the amount of fines through their apps. They claim that the department has taken all steps to create awareness through advertisements and social media promotion about registering phone numbers to get traffic alerts. "'One has to register one's mobile number while buying the vehicle. The same data is maintained with us and people get alerts on this number if they have violated traffic rules. We have informed people through advertisements to download the MUM traffic app and update personal data," said Amitesh Kumar, joint commissioner of police (traffic).
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