GUWAHATI, June 25 - Accusing the State Government � the Transport Department and the police in particular � of turning a blind eye to the prevailing chaos and lawlessness caused by city buses and trekkers in the city, public activist Prof Deven Dutta today said that the strange indifference of the commuters also emboldened the rowdy public transport operators to act like a law unto themselves.
Prof Dutta also said that the situation also exposed rampant violation of the Motor Vehicles Act, which has rendered travelling a dangerous proposition for the common man besides perpetuating the traffic chaos.
Underscoring the need for better policing and a vigilant public to streamline the running of public transport, Prof Dutta said that the fines imposed for traffic rule violations for city buses, such as not stopping at designated stops or waiting beyond the stipulated time, was too meagre to be an effective deterrent.
Citing an example, Prof Dutta said that while travelling in a city bus (AS-01-GC-8766) on June 9, he lodged a complaint to the City Police�s Traffic Branch as the bus stopped much ahead of the designated stop at Ganeshguri, hindering movement of other vehicles, and then it stayed stationed at the stop for a fairly long time despite protests by him.
�At the end, following my complaint the Traffic Police intercepted the bus at Chandmari and slapped a fine of Rs 500 for the violations. I thank the police for that but the fact is that such a little amount of fine is unlikely to be any deterrent for the errant drivers and operators,� he said.
Prof Dutta also said that none of the passengers in the bus joined him while he was protesting and none was asking for any ticket either. �This passive attitude of the public is worsening the situation whereas an assertive public would have gone a long way in securing their rights,� he added.
He further said that the alarming incidence of road accidents in the State, claiming over four thousand human lives every year, as also the deteriorating traffic problems and the most uncivilised public transport system, corroborated the fact that the authorities concerned have done little to stem the rot.
�This is criminal to have thousands of people getting killed on the State�s roads but is the government taking any action?� he questioned.
Prof Dutta said that given the huge number of casualties in accidents, the State Government ought to have treated it as a serious law and order problem and initiated remedial measures accordingly, but it chose instead to remain a mute spectator.
�Provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act are flouted with impunity, as is evident from overloaded city bus and other long- and short-distance buses, the shockingly reckless driving of city buses, trekkers and delivery vans, and parking of commercial vehicles in places meant for private vehicles besides the wild driving indulged in by many private car and two-wheeler owners, especially the youth,� Prof Dutta said.
He added that city buses and trekkers operate as per their whims, flouting all norms like stopping at unauthorised points and for a long time on the designated bus stops, creating traffic snarls. �Issuance of tickets to passengers has ceased since long, and the conductors and handymen often behave in an uncivilised manner,� he said, adding that rowdy elements have taken complete control of the city�s public transport.
Criticising the City Traffic Police, Prof Dutta said its role has been reduced to clearing the road for ensuring safe passage of �so-called� VIPs including ministers, MLAs and bureaucrats. He said that the �so-called VIPs� apart, the various armed forces also travelled in a manner as if they were a law unto themselves.