High traffic fines are to save lives, even Sonia and Kejriwal backed them: Nitin Gadkari denies any rift with states

Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Friday said that penalties for traffic violations were increased to save lives and even opposition leaders namely Sonia Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal supported the move. He defended the high fines under the amended Motor Vehicles saying that they were not for revenue generation but saving lives. The amended law came into force from September 1 under which the fines were hiked substantially. Speaking at Indian Today Conclave, Gadkari said: Five lakh accidents take place every year, in which about 1.5 lakh people die. Nearly three lakh become disabled and 65 per cent of victims are in the age group of 18 to 35 years. high penalties under the Act are not means for revenue generation. They are meant to save lives. While the minister has defended high penalties, some of the BP-ruled states have already slashed fines in their states. When asked about the opposition to the new law by some of the states, Gadkari said that even Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal have supported the Act. He, however, said that the penalties can be decided by the states and that there was no rift between the Centre and the BJP-ruled states over the issue. Earlier this month, the BJP-ruled Gujarat government slashed penalties for a number of traffic violations. In most of the cases, the state government has cut the fine by half. For example, the Centre has Rs 1000 fine for driving a two-wheeler without a helmet. But the Gujarat government has cut it down to Rs 500. Similarly, car drivers will be fined Rs 500 for not fastening the seat-belt against Rs 1,000 under the Central act. In Gujarat, fine for triple-riding on two-wheeler will continue to be Rs 100 and not Rs 1,000 as under the amended MV Act. Justifying the move, Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani said that poor people can not afford to hire auto-rickshaw if a family of three wants to go somewhere. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis too has hinted at revising the fines to make it less harsh for the common people without compromising on the