The bustling roads of Bengaluru witnessed a significant dip in traffic and vehicular movement due to the lockdowns resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. But despite a complete lockdown from May 10 to June 14, 2021, to tackle the second wave, the collection of fines by Bengaluru Traffic Police (BTP) for the year is well poised to set a record high. An amount of a little over Rs 58.9 crore has been collected by the department as of the half-year mark of May 31. It is estimated to surpass the records of the previous years. The annual fine amount for 2020, a year that saw the first pandemic-induced lockdown, was Rs 99.5 crore.
The total figure includes fines issued on violations of the Motor Vehicles (MV) Act, the Karnataka Police (KP) Act, the Karnataka Traffic (KTC) Act, towing charges, and automation fines.
From an official statement available, BTP has previously collected the maximum fine amount in the year 2017, with Rs 112.3 crore. Considering that with the recent unlocking, traffic is back in full force in the city, the half-yearly 2021 figure when doubled for the whole year is most likely to be the highest ever since 2012.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Traffic, Bengaluru East division, Shantharaj stated that lockdowns and traffic violations are mutually exclusive. â€śHigher amount of fine indicates more violations booked by us. During the lockdowns, even though vehicle density was less, vehicles involved in exempted activities and other commercial purposes were on the roads. Invariably, violations were still recorded,â€ť he told TNM.
The steady upward graph of recorded violations and the consequent fines issued has been credited to digitisation of the system. Top officials of the city traffic police say that the spike in the fine collection is a result of stricter enforcement of traffic rules and an increase in swift action taken against the violators.
Enforcement via automation
A similar pattern was observed with the fine collection enforced through automation.
In the last five years, the total automation fine has been the highest in 2020, with a collection of Rs 3.62 crore, almost twice as much as in 2017 (Rs 1.64 crore). But with a half-yearly figure of Rs 2.38 crore already, this year is expected to see a record high.
Automated challans have been incorporated into the traffic system since 2009. However, the use of technology for issuing fines began to pick up momentum in the city over the last few years. As per official data from BTP, 180 junctions across the city are fitted with CCTV cameras to capture traffic violations. â€śWe switched to the digital system completely about four years ago. Earlier also the violations were noticeable but couldnâ€™t be acted upon simultaneously because of physical constraints. Over the years, the system has been streamlined and hence there has been an increase in the number of violations, which our department could catch hold of. That is my understanding of why the total amount of fines collected is increasing,â€ť said Kuldeep Kumar Jain, DCP Traffic, Bengaluru West division.
Considering that it is not possible to have video surveillance at every junction or location, nine interceptor vehicles equipped with surveillance cameras have been deployed for recording the violations while on the move. All these networks are connected to the central server which keeps track of all the vehicles and the offenders.