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Drop in traffic fine collection in Kolkata

High rates one reason for decline: Economist

Monalisa Chaudhuri | Published 03.02.23, 07:28 AM
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Representational image

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Collection of traffic fines in Kolkata since a sharp increase in rates a year ago has reduced almost by half, according to records in the Kolkata police headquarters.

In 2021, of the Rs 54.24 crore fine imposed on motorists for traffic rule violations, around Rs 27.55 crore was realised. Which means close to 50 per cent of the amount charged as fine was collected.


In 2022, of the Rs 198.18 crore fine imposed on errant motorists, only Rs 49.96 crore — close to 25 per cent — was collected.

“The figures show the realisation of traffic fines reduced by almost 50 per cent in 2022 compared with 2021,” said an officer at Lalbazar.

Several officers in the traffic department said errant motorists were reluctant to pay fines after the amounts were increased sharply in January last year, resulting in a larger gap between the amount charged as fine and the amount realised.

The state government issued a revised chart of traffic fines in January 2022 based on changes in central laws. The fine for driving with an invalid licence increased from Rs 500 to Rs 10,000.

The fine for riding a two-wheeler without a helmet was increased from Rs 100 to Rs 1,000. Also, post-January 2022, the punishment for the offence includes seizure of the driving licence of the offender for three months.

Earlier, motorists caught racing were fined Rs 500. The current amount is Rs 5,000 for first-time offenders. For every consequent offence, the offender has to pay Rs 10,000.

An officer of the rank of assistant commissioner with more than a decade of experience in the traffic wing said offenders were reluctant to pay traffic fines these days, especially when they are sent e-challans without seizure of any document.

“It is tough to realise the fines for citation cases where e-challans are sent to the registered mobile number of the owner of the offending vehicle. As no document is seized in such cases, the motorists are under no compulsion to pay the fine immediately,” said the officer.

According to Kolkata police records, 29,58,162 traffic violation cases were reported in 2021. Last year, the count stood at 25,18,672.

While a section of officers feels the drop in cases signifies a higher rate of compliance with road rules, many say this could be an indication that a number of cases are not being reported because they are “getting settled unofficially”.

In such “settlements”, offenders pay an amount lower than the fine amount to the prosecuting officer.

“The collection has come down primarily because of prohibitive rates. If the fine amounts are high, there is a tendency among violators to bypass the system by paying the officer concerned a lower amount as bribe,” said Saikat Sinha Roy, head of the economics department at Jadavpur University.

“Increasing fine amounts is not the way to curb traffic rule violations. Lower rates might help increase the compliance ratio.”

A senior police officer, however, said “action” is always taken if any complaint of bribery is lodged.

Last updated on 03.02.23, 07:28 AM

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