The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Toe traffic line or pay a fine

Think thrice before you step off that footpath from Monday. And if you get your timing wrong at the right crossroads, make sure you have Rs 50 on you. Otherwise, be resigned to spending some time in the Lalbazar lock-up.

The traffic wing is set to snare all jaywalkers at five critical crossings (see box) and, for the first time in Calcutta Police history, impose spot fines.

In the first phase of this road-rule implementation programme, traffic sergeants and constables will keep a close watch at the designated intersections. If anyone is found crossing the street violating traffic lights and rules, he must pay up to walk free.

“This drive is part of an attempt to curb the fatality rate on roads. Reckless driving and flouting of traffic rules by pedestrians are equally responsible for a number of road accidents. Our aim is to teach Calcuttans basic road manners, not to harass them,” said Banibrata Basu, joint commissioner of police, traffic department.

From 6 am on Monday, a number of traffic policemen will take up their positions. “We will act tough. An offender will have no choice but to pay the spot fine,” said an official of the traffic department. “There is a provision in the Calcutta Police Act of 1866 that we can slap a fine of up to Rs 50.”

Piyush Pandey, deputy commissioner (traffic), explained the spot-penalty provision: “Initially, we will charge an offender Rs 50. If he is unable to pay it, we will charge whatever amount he is carrying, even if that is just 50 paise.”

A receipt will he handed over to the offender, on the spot, by a traffic sergeant.

Monday marks the culmination of a road-rule drive, flagged off on December 8 by the traffic police, in association with schoolchildren and other organisations. Pedestrians were taught how to cross an intersection and follow the lights.

The week after, police started detaining offenders for five to 10 minutes. “We did not fine them, but warned them of the punitive measure that would be taken from Monday,” said an official of the traffic department. “We have given pedestrians enough time to come to terms with the new regulations. Now, they must toe the traffic-rule line or pay the price,” he added.

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