The state transport department issued a notification on Friday that bans beacons and allows flashers only on top of vehicles engaged in emergency and disaster management.
The notification is in line with a 2017 central government notification that abolished beacons and suggested the use of multi-colour red, blue and white flashers. Beacons are of one colour — red or blue — and are dome-shaped, while flashers are of multiple colours.
Friday’s notification said that the order is based on the “provisions laid down in para 3 of the notification No. SO 1374(E) dated May 1, 2017 issued by the ministry of road transport and highways, government of India”.
The new notification changes the way police have been prosecuting violators for unauthorised beacon use. A senior police officer said: “This means beacons are completely off and whoever is eligible will have to put the red-white-blue flasher, as are already attached to all escort vehicles.”
The notification had no mention of the eligibility for light-fitted cars of central government officers in the state.
Before Friday’s list, the state had last issued a list of ranks eligible for beacons in 2014. Friday’s list for flasher eligibility does not include a number of posts — such as governor, leader of opposition in the Assembly, high court judges and mayor of Calcutta — which were earlier entitled to beacons.
The new notification mentions 14 categories of emergency and disaster management authorities allowed to use flashers while on duty:
⚫ Ministers / ministers of state of the Bengal government
⚫ State chief secretary
⚫ Additional chief secretary, principal secretary, secretary in charge of the departments of the state government
⚫ Divisional commissioners in their respective jurisdictions
⚫ Director generals / additional director generals of police of the state police
⚫ Director general of fire services in the state
⚫ Commissioner of state excise and commissioner of the commercial taxes in state
⚫ Inspector generals / deputy inspector generals of police in their respective zones and ranges in the state
⚫ District magistrates in Bengal in their respective districts
⚫ Municipal commissioners in their respective jurisdiction
⚫ Commissioners / additional commissioners / joint commissioners /deputy commissioners of police in Bengal in their respective jurisdiction
⚫ Sub-divisional officers / sub-divisional police officers in Bengal in their respective jurisdictions
⚫ All police patrol cars, escort vehicles and fire tenders.
The 2017 notification by the Centre had said: “...the vehicles on office duty may be allowed to use multi-coloured red, blue and white light on the top, namely — a) the duties relating to control of fire; b) the duties by police, defence forces or parliamentary forces for maintenance of law and order; c) the duties relating to management of natural disasters including nuclear disaster, chemical disaster and biological disaster.”
The Centre's notification had also mentioned the distribution of a sticker each to the eligible government officers with watermark and hologram of the respective transport department.
However, the state transport department officials said on Friday they were yet to finalise the stickers.