E-challan system, which was launched by the Mumbai Traffic Police has a rough ride

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Mumbai,May22:The much-vaunted e-challan system, which was launched by the Mumbai Traffic Police to digitise the entire process of recovering fines from road rule violators, is having a rough ride.Traffic cops are struggling to realise the fines as the defaulters, after getting the e-challans, never turn up to pay up. Despite issuing around 16.47 lakhs of e-challans since October last year, the traffic department has managed to collect the cash penalty only from 4 lakh violators.

This is in stark contrast to figures of past years, when on an average, out of 25 lakh violators, traffic police have been able to recover fines in 21 lakh cases.

Mumbai Traffic Police got the e-challan system inaugurated by city Police Commissioner Datta Padsalgikar on October 5 last year.Under the new set-up, traffic police manning the roads were asked to issue e-challans mentioning the penalty to motorists violating traffic rules, instead of accepting cash.

“People are supposed to pay the fines through debit or credit cards for which the traffic personnel have been armed with 600 e-challan machines. If someone doesn’t have a debit/credit card, he or she can pay the cash at the Traffic Chowky or a Vodafone store or through Paytm,” said Amitesh Kumar, the new joint commissioner of Mumbai Traffic Police.

Those caught on CCTV cameras flouting road rules are issued e-challans via their mobile phones.

Though the initiative was lauded by all as it sought to curb corruption and increase transparency, it faltered because most offenders say they don’t have debit-credit cards and the traffic police let them go without collecting their licences.

“As their licences are not withheld, people naturally don’t have any obligation or urgency to cough up the fine. Very few people have actually given the fines,” Kumar pointed out.

Also, out of the roughly 35 lakh vehicles in the city, hardly 15 lakh have a registered mobile number attached to it and hence, in a large number of cases, the viola tions captured on surveil lance cameras go uncharged.

The poor rate of recovery of fines prompted Kumar to convene a meet ing of all senior traffic offi cials on Friday. While the issue was discussed thread bare, it was decided that from now on, constables would be sent to the homes of the violators to collect the fines.

“In serious offences like overspeeding if a violator doesn’t pay up within 15 days, we will send a traffic constable to the house of the vehicle owner,” said Kumar.

If an offender has changed house, the department will make efforts to find the new address. In another move, the traffic police are mulling a tie-up with India Post to send e-challans to residences of violators because the mobile phone numbers get changed in lot of cases.

“Among other measures, we have decided to impound the licences of the offenders till they cough up the fine. Till such time, they will be issued receipts,” Kumar added. The department also plans to start a fine of Rs 10 per day if a violator does not pay up within 15 days, but for this measure to work, the notice or the letter needs to reach the violator in case of CCTV detection of offences.

While around Rs 25 crore is col lected by the traffic police by way of fines for motoring offences every year, the department’s offi cials said that they were more wor ried that their action and the pun ishment were not acting as deter rents.

For example, around 35,000 e-challans were issued for over speeding on Bandra-Worli Sea Link, but only 350 people had come forward to pay the fine.

At present, around 4,717 CCTV cameras are installed across the city to keep an eye on traffic viola tions. A total of 25 traffic consta bles check the digressions at the Traffic Control room in Worli.

Around 6,000 e-challans are issued daily, mostly for overspeeding, signal jumping and not wearing helmets. Triple-riding on two wheelers, talking on phone while driving, violating signals, driving without seat belts and overstepping at zebra crossings also invite censure and penalty.