Pointing out that the red beacon on Mumbai Mayor’s car was “not legal”, the Regional Transport Office (RTO) on Friday wrote to the Executive Engineer (Transport) of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to take appropriate action. Despite the Central government notification banning red beacons, the mayor continues to have one atop his official car.
Reacting to the RTO letter, Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar said, “RTO has no authority to issue such a letter or even take action as neither the state nor the Central government has issued a government resolution (GR) announcing the rule. I will not remove the red beacon unless I get a copy of a GR on this new rule.”
In a bid to put an end to ‘VIP culture’, the Union government had on May 1 issued a notification banning beacons except on emergency vehicles. For the purpose, the government had amended the Central Motor Vehicles Act, 1989. The BMC has not been following the changed rule in the case of the mayor’s car. Mahadeshwar’s previous vehicle, a Mahindra XUV500, had a beacon on it. It has now been attached to his new car (Toyota Innova Crysta) as well.
Following the change of rule, six months ago, all ministers in Maharashtra, including Transport Minister and Shiv Sena leader Diwakar Raote, had got the beacons on their vehicles removed.
The Tardeo Regional Transport Office, where the new car for the mayor was registered on October 4, said they have written to all government departments about the amendment in the rule on red beacons. After they found that it was not followed by the BMC in case of the mayor’s car, they decided to write to BMC’s transport department. S S Pedamkar, Regional Transport Officer, said, “We have already informed all government offices about the new rule. However, when we found that the mayor’s car has a red beacon, we decided to write to the BMC. We are awaiting their response.”
An official from the BMC’s transport department confirmed receiving the RTO’s letter and said they have initiated a correspondence with the mayor’s office. The official said that the red beacon, though fitted atop the mayor’s car, is never used. “We received the RTO’s letter via email on Friday evening. Soon, we initiated a correspondence with the mayor’s office,” said Anant Bhagwatkar, Executive Engineer, BMC.
Even in 2013, the first citizen of Mumbai was not included in the state gazette list of important persons permitted to use the red beacon after a Supreme Court (SC) order on December 10, 2013 had asked the state government to list the dignitaries permitted to use the red beacon.
The then Mumbai mayor and Shiv Sena leader Sunil Prabhu had said it was an insult to the post. Neither Prabhu nor his successor Snehal Ambekar removed the beacon from their cars. In keeping with the trend, Mahadeshwar continues to retain the beacon on his car. Mahadeshwar said, “After the Central government decision, ministers including the CM removed the red beacons. I never use the red beacon fitted on my car. However, I want to know under what section they have mandated that the mayor cannot have a red beacon.”