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Blue (de)light for bureaucrats

Bureaucrats in Bihar have reasons to rejoice as the state government has taken a U-turn on its earlier stand of disallowing them from using any beacon light atop their vehicles.

The state transport department in its latest notification on usage of beacon on Wednesday has allowed principal secretaries, secretaries of the state government, district magistrate, commissioners and district and additional district judges and 12 other categories of dignitaries to use blue beacon lights.

Most of them were entitled to use yellow beacon lights for years till the transport department came up with a notification on March 4 this year, abolishing the use of yellow beacons in the state. Blue beacon was allowed only on ambulances and the vehicles used in emergency services, fire services, and police vehicles escorting/piloting high dignitaries and police vehicles used in law and order duties.

The abolition of yellow beacon lights was supposed to restrict the rampant use of the “privilege”. Till February this year, total 40 categories of dignitaries in the state were authorised to use beacon light — twenty categories each for red as well as yellow beacons. After the notification issued by transport department on Wednesday, the list of such dignitaries has reached 48 — thirteen categories for red beacon with flasher, seventeen categories for red beacon without flasher and 18 categories for blue beacons.

Principal secretary-cum-transport commissioner Vijoy Prakash told The Telegraph: “The notification on beacon lights was issued in March on urgent basis in pursuance of a judgment given by Supreme Court of India on December 10, last year. The ministry of road, transport and highways had directed all the states to finalise the list of dignitaries holding constitutional posts for usage of beacon lights on priority basis. Accordingly, we had finalised the list of such dignitaries and the decision regarding the same for the government officers could not be taken at that time. It has been taken now.”

According to the March 4 notification, total 13 dignitaries, including the governor, chief minister, cabinet ministers and the speaker of the Assembly, were authorised to use red beacons “with flasher”. Dignitaries belonging to another 17 categories, including deputy speaker of Assembly, state ministers, chief secretary and advocate-general, were authorised to use red beacons “without flasher”.

The bureaucratic and the judicial fraternity in the state hailed the latest move of the transport department. “District judges and additional district judges are superior grade officers of the judiciary. Thus, they deserve some distinction from general public,” said AMC Srivastava, chairman, Bihar State Bar Council.

Residents differed. “With bureaucrats having been allowed to use blue beacons, the situation has once again come to square one. The SC had clearly stated in its order that the list of dignitaries to be permitted the usage of beacons should be restrictive. But the latest notification of the transport department shows that hardly any curtailment has been made in the list of dignitaries entitled to use beacons,” said Wing Commander (retired) Narendra Kumar, honorary secretary, Automobile Dealers’ Association of Bihar.


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