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Money-back traffic boon

A day after transport minister Subhas Chakraborty blamed the finance ministry for slamming the brakes on many of his projects, the city police announced a flurry of traffic-friendly projects that have been cleared by the government’s cash counters.

Ready to hit the road are several measures to provide a smooth ride for motorists and curb traffic-rule violations. And fuelling the drive is the state government’s clearing of a proposal to plough back part of the fines collected from rule-violators into better traffic management.

Responding to police commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty’s proposal, the finance department has agreed to pay back 25 per cent of the total earnings to the city traffic police from the fines that are collected.

“To date, we deposit the entire amount collected from the offenders in a year to the state government. But last week, the finance department decided to grant us part of the amount,” said a senior officer of the traffic department. “But it will not be more than Rs 2 crore,” he clarified.

Senior officers of the traffic department have chalked out a plan to utilise the grant. A Traffic Rules and Improvement Fund will be set up to implement the proposed measures. The fund will work under the supervision of the commissioner of police. In the first phase, the grant will be used for the following measures:

§Hidden video cameras to be installed at important intersections, like Moulali, Chowringhee, Esplanade and Shyambazar. The cameras will be focused in two directions — one with a wide angle to have an overall view of the intersection; others to be focused at the height of the vehicles’ number-plates. It will help the police to track down and nail those who violate traffic norms and flee the spot.

§ Auto-signalling system to be repaired. There are a number of reports showing how auto-signals are not functioning properly. Often, a cash crunch prevents prompt repairs.

§A fair share will be deposited with the CESC every month as electricity bill for the electric signalling systems.

According to traffic department officers, the government earned Rs 8.28 crore as revenue from road-rule violators last year. In 2001, the figure was Rs 11.02 crore. “We sent the proposal to the state government to strengthen the traffic police department. After discussing all its aspects, we sent it to the commissioner of police, who later referred it to the state government,” explained a senior police officer.

The traffic department now allows violators to pay the fines at their nearest UBI branch. “It has not only increased our earnings, but also stopped malpractice among some officials of the traffic department,” admitted deputy commissioner (traffic) M.K. Singh.

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