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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Who in Bengal can use beacon lights on vehicles? Mamata Banerjee, Jagdeep Dhankhar not on list

The Central government had in 2017 banned all kinds of beacon lights for VVIPs other those who are involved in emergency and disaster management duties.

Written by Atri Mitra | Kolkata |
Updated: July 24, 2021 2:27:35 pm
Bengal city news, Bengak CM Mamata Banerjee, bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankar, Bengal VC meet, Indian expressWest Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and CM Mamata Banerjee. (File)

The state Transport Department on Friday published a fresh list of VIPs and emergency officials who can use beacon lights atop their vehicles, and left out the governor, chief minister, Assembly speaker and chief justice of the Calcutta High Court from the list.

The Central government had in 2017 banned all kinds of beacon lights for VVIPs other those who are involved in emergency and disaster management duties. However, governor, chief minister, Assembly speaker and chief justice of the Calcutta High Court continue to use beacon lights as the state did not issue a notification in the same year.

Transport Minister Firhad Hakim on Friday said, “The chief minister, governor and other dignitaries are above this list. This list only defines who are in emergency and disaster management duties. CM, Governor, Chief Justice will also have red beacon light.”

He, however, did not reveal if a second list of another set of VVIPs would be issued. The notification, though, lists VIPs such as council of ministers, ministers of state, secretaries and other dignitaries whose vehicles can continue to sport beacon lights.

The notification read: “The state government is hereby pleased to notify… the general public that the vehicles of the following authorities, while on duty, are designated for the emergency and disaster management duties and are allowed to use the light on top of their vehicle in the state.”

The notification came in the wake of the illegal vaccination camps case last month. Accused Debanjan Deb, who travelled in a blue beacon vehicle and masqueraded as an IAS officer, had allegedly held illegal vaccination camps. He was arrested last month.

A senior Transport Department official said, “After this (illegal vaccination camps) incident, police started Naka checking and confiscated many fake vehicles which were wrongly using beacon lights. The department then decided to issue the notification on the use of beacon lights.” The official raised concern that the notification did not clarify on which colour of beacon light could be used by officials and political representatives.

However, the officer said, “In this notification, which colour of light they should use, that was not mentioned which wrong in sense and that means that Chief Minister, Governors and other dignitaries totally excluded in this notification.”

In 2014, the Supreme Court had ordered that all VIPs cannot use red beacon lights. The West Bengal government later published a fresh list in which most VIPs were enlisted for the privilege. In 2017, the Central Government announced that only those who were engaged in emergency and disaster management duties can use multi-colour (red, white and blue) light on their vehicles. Although the state government had not published the new direction, it allowed its logo and flag in the front of the vehicle.

BJP leader Samik Bhattacharya attacked the TMC government for waiting until the vaccination case for the new notification. “This government does not believe in rule of law. Their officers know this and act in a similar fashion,” the MP said.

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