Four full months have passed since the traffic cops were given 100 Point of Sale (PoS) machines as an effective alternative to collect spot fine from violators of traffic rules. All one has to do, in case he/she violates a traffic rule, is to swipe the debit or credit card in the machines held by traffic cops to pay the government-fixed fine and continue with the journey.
Introduced as part of the government’s push for digital transaction a few months after the demonetisation and to curb the bribing of traffic cops by violators to go scot-free, PoS machines were expected to make a difference in the way penalties were being collected. However, at the end of the third month, only Rs 6,87,085 has been received through PoS machines.
A traffic inspector DT Next spoke to said that 90 per cent of violators by default for opt for cash payment to pay spot fine. “When they say that they fall short of cash, we tell them about the PoS option,” said the inspector. When asked why cops don’t tell them of such an option in the beginning, he said their job is not to promote PoS option and force motorists to use debit or credit cards.
Another inspector pointed out glitches in the hand-held machines for not being able to use it effectively. “A major problem with the machines is that they run out battery very quickly. We could use it only for a half day with a fully-charged machine. Since we don’t have the option of charging the machines during the day since we would be out on the road, we charge them in our houses or station at night hours. However, when the battery goes below certain point, the machine doesn’t print the receipt, while the money is debited from the motorist’s account. So, they think we are misusing the card. Another problem is that the Internet connection is so slow that it takes forever for approval. If these minor glitches are fixed, it will make a lot of difference. On Monday, we could only book nine cases with the machine,” said the official.
Traffic cops are not against cashless payments though. Inspector Ramesh (Traffic Enforcement Wing, Mambalam) said that PoS machines make their job much easier, since the fine will automatically get deposited in the bank. So, we don’t run the risk of misplacing the collected fine. We just have to issue them the receipt and the E-challan,” he said. Motorists complain that police often do not tell them they can pay fine using cards. “Once I was caught for not wearing helmet when I told the cops that I did not have cash, they told me to withdraw money from the nearby ATM. When I asked if I can pay by card, they told me that the machine was not working. I refused to pay the fine until they relented and take out the PoS machine,” said Sathish Kumar, a private firm employee. He says that authorities should monitor whether the hand-held machines are used properly.
Not the first scheme
This is not the first time that such an initiative did not meet the expected results. Sending offenders to court to pay the fine was discontinued with the introduction of e-challan devises. The e-challan system, which is still in practice, helps the police to get all details pertaining to the owner’s name, address, vehicle-make and colour and his/her previous traffic violations just by keying in the vehicle registration number.
However, the beat challan system, which was introduced in 2012, was discontinued due to discrepancies involved. Under the system, traffic constables provided with GPRS-enabled hand-held devices with built-in camera will capture images of traffic-violating vehicles and send the images to the control room where an automatic challan will be generated. A top police official said that the system was flawed since a constable can’t be authorised to book a case by clicking photos of traffic violations.
Integration plans on the anvil
Joint Commissioner (Traffic - South) Prem Anand Sinha said that using PoS machines to pay spot fine is catching up among motorists, albeit slowly. “A majority of people have welcomed the move as it would make the fine collection transparent. But it will take time for the new system to be accepted. We are also planning to integrate both the machines into one to make it more effective,” he said.
Promising project did not take off
The Rs150 crore integrated traffic management system (ITMS), which was announced in 2015, was scrapped the next year after the contract given to Purple Infotech, was terminated citing delay in completing which started in June last year. With 600 cameras and 272 towers, the ITMS would allow motorists in hurry to pass through synchronised green lights throughout his journey. But if he or she violate traffic signals, he can be sure of getting a traffic ticket that will be mailed to his home.