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Come May 1, 'lal batti' cars or vehicles with red beacons will be a thing of the past as the government has barred their use by VVIPs, including the President, the Prime Minister and chief ministers.
Seeking to end the VIP culture, the Union Cabinet today decided that beacon lights will be removed from all vehicles, except emergency vehicles, like ambulances and fire brigade.
The vehicles with beacon lights, which are seen as a symbol of VIP culture, "have no place in a democratic country", the government said.
"After May 1, no one will be able to put red light atop his/her vehicle. Blue light will be used only for emergency vehicles in the country...Neither the states nor the Centre will have power to give any special permission (for use of beacon lights)," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said after the Cabinet meeting.
He said the use of red beacons atop vehicles has been a matter of discussion and debates for long as to why certain people have special privileges on road.
The matter was under discussion for some time and "the Prime Minister took the decision and informed the Cabinet," Jaitley said, adding amendments will be made soon in the Central Motor Vehicles Rules to give effect to the decision.
A rule that empowers the Centre or state governments to allow use of red beacon lights to dignitaries will be altogether removed from the statute books, the minister said.
"There will be no exception for anyone. The reason is very clear that the rule itself is being removed from the rule book," he added.
Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari was the first Union Minister who took the red beacon off his official vehicle immediately after the Cabinet meeting.
The decision, he said, was taken to strengthen "healthy democratic values" in the country.
"The government is of the considered opinion that beacons on vehicles are perceived symbols of VIP culture and have no place in a democratic country. They have no relevance whatsoever," Gadkari reasoned.
Beacons, however, will be allowed on vehicles concerning emergency and relief services, ambulance, fire service etc. In light of the decision, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways will make necessary provisions in law.
According to Gadkari, this is the start of a healthy culture and tradition as blaring of sirens and blazing of beacons used to anger the masses.
In several states, even MLAs blatantly used beacon lights, he said, adding that some of them had the practice of using detachable beacons.
He further said the use of sirens by ministers is not legal as these can be used only by pilot police vehicles.
Asked what will be the punitive measures in case of violations, the minister said action will be taken as per provisions in the law.
He said a detailed notification in this regard will be issued soon and there is no need for any amendment in the Motor Vehicles Act.
"We can issue the notification under respective rules and before that, a notice will be issued for public hearing," he said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)