NEW DELHI: From next month, lal batti or red beacons will be banned for everybody across the country, including the President, Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India. “There will be no exceptions,” said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today, announcing after a cabinet meeting that only emergency vehicles like fire engines, ambulances and police vans can have the blue beacon.
“Blue lights, used often for the car preceding VIPs, will be allowed only for emergency vehicles,” said Mr Jaitley.
In recent meetings, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had reportedly been emphatic about ending ‘lal batti culture’ that has come to represent VIP arrogance for which the public had to suffer traffic restrictions or jams.
Recently, when PM Modi went to the Delhi airport to receive Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, his convoy moved “in normal traffic”, which means no restrictions were in place throughout the route.
Usually, policemen put up barricades and block every route that dignitaries are to take, leaving people waiting interminably for the roads to reopen. The video of an ambulance carrying a wounded child being blocked by policemen because of a visiting dignitary’s convoy in Delhi earlier this month went viral online.
In 2013, a court said the use of beacons should be restricted and only constitutional authorities should be allowed to use it.
The PM reportedly called a meeting last week to discuss how to pare down the use of lal batti cars.
Two chief ministers have already renounced beacons – Devendra Fadnavis in Maharashtra and Amarinder Singh in Punjab.