Bengaluru: Many Indians have ridiculed a sharp increase in traffic fines this week, lampooning the poor state of roads and joking that the revenue from the fines would soon exceed that from taxes.
The government hopes to bring order to the country's chaotic roads with a tenfold increase in fines for more serious offences to between Rs 5,000 and Rs 1 lakh.
The new fines went into effect on Sunday.
They come as economic growth has slumped to a six-year low, and government data shows a slowdown in the growth of Goods and Services Tax (GST) collections, raising the prospect that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government will miss its fiscal deficit target this year.
“If the traffic police and government became half efficient in collecting fines for traffic violations, it will easily cross the GST and IT (income tax) collections,” said one Twitter user.
Another Twitter user joked: “At this rate, the government can abolish GST and concentrate on traffic fines.”
Media reported a tractor driver in Gurugram, Haryana, who had to cough up Rs 59,000 in fines for 10 violations, while a rickshaw driver separately was hit with a fine of Rs 32,500.
“India’s fiscal deficit will soon turn into a fiscal surplus,” said another Twitter user, referring to the rate at which the government was raking in traffic fines.
The size of the fines is particularly concerning because India's per capita monthly income is only Rs 10,500.
But officials say the heavy fines are needed to improve safety in a country where more than one lakh people are killed and nearly 5 lakh injured every year in road accidents.
“Shouldn’t people’s lives be saved? There should be respect for the law,” Nitin Gadkari, Union minister for road transport and highways, told the ANI.
Gadkari himself though was not spared on social media, with some quick to repost old images of him riding a scooter without a helmet.
People also posted pictures of huge potholes and asked what his department was doing to fix them.
An artist had his video go viral here this week after he dressed up as an astronaut and pretended to moonwalk across potholed roads in Bengaluru.
“Should we pay fines for these roads? Or at least is the govt going to pay our hospital bills?” said another Twitter post, with an image of a man falling off a scooter on a flooded road.
Updated Date: Sep 05, 2019 20:49:31 IST