Beware Bhutanese drivers: Indian government revises penalties on traffic violation

From this month, people driving along the Indian roads and highways should be more cautious as the India’s Rajya Sabha passed the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

The bill contains provisions that will make traffic violations along the roads more costly following the revision in the penalties for violating traffic rules that was put forward by the Indian Transport Authority.

The amount for traffic violations has increased by many folds in 15 different offences. Driving without licenses would cost INR 5,000 which was earlier Nu 500. Similarly, the fine has increased from Nu 100 to 1,000 for driving without wearing seat belts.

The minimum fine for drunk driving has been increased from Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000, while the fine for over-speeding will go up from Rs 400 to Rs 1,000-2,000.

Similarly, talking on a mobile phone while driving will attract a fine of Rs 5,000, up from Rs 1,000, and the fine for rash driving has been increased from Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000.

The Indian Parliament on July 31 has passed the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Act, 2019 which is expected to come into force soon.

Disobeying authorities’ orders could cost INR 2,000 which was INR 500 earlier.

The penalty to the trucks carrying overload has also increased from INR 2,000 for the first Metric Ton (MT) and INR 1,000 every MT to INR 20,000 for the first one MT and INR 2,000 for the subsequent weights.

Meanwhile, most Bhutanese vehicles use the Indian roads and highways in West Bengal and Assam on a daily basis from Phuentsholing, Gelephu, Samtse and Samdrup Jongkhar.

Heavy, light and pool vehicles also travel to other Dzongkhags using the Indian routes without internal road connectivity or the lateral East-West highway. Around 500-600 vehicles from Bhutan use the Indian roads and highways every week.

“The revision means we have to be more careful and avoid unnecessary driving,” Sangay Wangchuk, a resident of Phuentsholing, said.

Meanwhile, the various routes in the Indian states of West Bengal, Assam and Meghalaya are also used by boulders trucks to ferry boulders to Bangladesh and India from Bhutan.

With numerous cases of being fined and penalized along the Indian highways, the Vice Chairman of the Truckers Association of Bhutan, Tshewang Rinzin, said it’s important to pass on the information to the truckers and the drivers.

“By this time, many might be aware, but still there are some who need to be informed,” he said. Boulders carrying trucks are compelled to use the Indian routes even if they wish to transit using inland water transport service through Dhupri port in India.

Krishna Ghalley from Phuentsholing