Abandoned vehicles: will cops penalise themselves?

Police are out to slap hefty penalties to clear city roads of old, scrap-quality vehicles. Great. Only problem: they are the worst offenders

Abandoned vehicles have become a problem, and the traffic police are out to remove them from Bengaluru roads. 

Old, beat-up vehicles can be seen across the city. In areas like Jayanagar, Yelahanka, and HAL, you see old, rusted vehicles gathering dust, some reduced to their exoskeletons.

The only problem with the police drive is this: they have no place to park vehicles they confiscate, and the abandoned vehicles will become another headache.

Take the police station at Jayanagar 4th Block. It has blocked an entire footpath and half of a prominent road to park seized, abandoned vehicles.

Any drive against old vehicles blocking roads should begin with the police setting an example and clearing their environs of junk vehicles, a Jayanagar resident says. 

When Metrolife visited Jayanagar 4th Block, near Maiyas, we found scores of vehicles parked haphazardly all around the police station. Lines of two-wheelers were parked on the footpath, blocking pedestrian movement, and many vehicles were parked randomly. Clearly, the police do nothing about the mess staring them in the eye.

For decades, the police have done nothing about junked cars, bikes and autos parked in front of their stations.

Traffic police are now out to charge a fine of Rs 50 an hour on owners who have abandoned their vehicles on the road. If left for a day, the penalty is Rs 1,200. A month will set back owners by Rs 36,000. Or so the police say.

But how do they track down the owners? And how much have they collected so far?

Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) P Harishekaran said it was three months since this initiative was launched.

So far, 1,358 abandoned vehicles have been identified and notices sent, he told Metrolife.

In front of Jayanagar General Hospital in 4th T Block, you can see several abandoned cars. One was parked in front of a bus stop, blocking the way for buses and coming in the way of passengers.

When the reporter asked whose vehicle it was, a street vendor said it had remained parked for a long time and no one had come to clear the area.

A traffic police officer on duty told Metrolife the police had sent notices to the owners of the vehicles.

“We are sending notices if we think a vehicle is abandoned. You can tell that it’s not being used by its condition,” he says.

The police have no way to determine if a vehicle is abandoned. In one case, they sent a notice to a Jayanagar resident whose car, regularly in use, had not been washed for a couple of days.

The fine is being slapped under Section 201 of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 - under the head ‘Penalty for Causing Obstruction to Free Flow of Traffic.’

The rule is said to apply also to breakdown vehicles, even BBMP and BMTC ones, if they are left unattended for hours.

A police officer at the Audugodi traffic police station told Metrolife his men had booked cases against owners of 28 vehicles so far. Of them, two owners turned up to claim their vehicles. He said they would have to go to court to pay the penalty, he said.

What about police vehicles?

The government has given 3 acres and 8 acres to the police, who say they are expecting a fund of Rs 5 to 6 crore to build a parking yard. Both the parcels of land are on Mysore Road.

“We will build a compound and shift all police vehicles there. Right now, we don’t have any space to park our own vehicles; unfortunately, this wasn’t properly planned years ago,” says ACP (Traffic) P Harishekaran.

Till the parking yard is built, the police have no other option but to leave the vehicles in the vicinity of the police stations, he opines. He adds that they hope the work will be completed in the next six months.

Steep fine

How much does it cost to abandon a vehicle on the road? Rs 50 an hour, Rs 1,200 a day, and Rs 36,000 a month.

Auction

If no one comes to claim an abandoned vehicle, police will tow it away and have it auctioned.

How do you identify abandoned vehicles?

“We check if it’s dusty and how long it’s been parked. Most of them won’t have engines. So we have listed out those vehicles and cross-checked the vehicle and engine numbers. This helps us identify the owner and whether it is in use or not,” says Harishekaran.

The owners then have an option— if the vehicle is dear to their heart, they can keep it inside their property. Those who want to sell will have to do it through the RTO.

“If you don’t know the procedures to sell, we will help you approach the RTO,” Harishekaran says.

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