The plan of the Bengaluru Traffic Police to enforce the helmet rule by denying fuel to motorcyclists was met with resistance from petrol station owners.
The police had hoped to emulate the model being followed in Noida and Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh where riders without helmets can’t buy fuel. However, during a meeting on Saturday, petrol station owners told the police that while they support the cause, they can’t ‘all of a sudden’ deny fuel to motorists.
“We are fine with an awareness campaign in petrol stations targeting people found without helmets. People need to be told why helmets are important. This is a gradual process. But, we don’t have the right to refuse these customers. Fuel is an essential commodity. There is no legal basis to deny them fuel,” said Ravi Hamsa from the Bengaluru Petrol Bunks Owners Association.
While Rule 129 of the Central Motor Vehicle Act makes it mandatory for motorcyclists to wear helmets, there is no rule to deny them fuel.
“Nearly 60% of customers in petrol stations are two-wheeler owners, and more than half of these are regular customers who live in the neighbourhood. By suddenly implementing a ban, we may see arguments,” said B.R. Ravindranath, a petrol station owner.
During the meeting, petrol station owners sought the deployment of at least one policeman at each of the over 500 stations for ‘safety’ and to help with the awareness campaign.
While the ‘No helmet, no fuel’ plan is unlikely to be implemented, several owners offered to start an ‘awareness campaigns’ among motorcyclists from Monday.
A senior police officer, who attended the meeting chaired by Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) P. Harishekharan, said the outreach is part of an initiative by the city traffic police to reduce traffic violations.
“We will provide police protection in these petrol stations in case of arguments. Any biker found to be behaving unruly with the petrol station personnel will be dealt with legally,” said the officer.