New Delhi: Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday defended the newly revised Motor Vehicles Amendment Act 2019 and said that the idea was to “save lives”. He also said that the states were free to reduce the traffic fines if they wished.

After repeatedly receiving criticism from the Opposition, Gadkari questioned, “To those states who are refusing to enforce the fines, isn’t life more important than money? That is the spirit behind this law. It is not the intention of the government to increase fines to get revenue for the government.” He added that the new rules were made to promote road safety and avert accidents.

“We are implementing this to create fear & respect for the law. It is not a revenue making a proposal but a proposal to save lives of the people. We are losing 2% GDP due to road accidents,” he said.

Gadkari’s statement comes after several states have shown rejection of the recent hike in traffic penalties. Yesterday, the Gujarat government announced that the motor penalty rate would be reduced by 90 per cent. Similar reports are also coming from Congress-ruled states like Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

Taking a jibe at Gujarat’s decision, Gadkari also said that the ruling BJP was embarrassed at its own decision and hence decided to slash the fines.

Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee refused to implement the hefty fines in her state saying that “it will hurt general people”. She further said that money was the solution and that the Centre needs to look at the issue from a “humanitarian point of view”.

There has been an increased opposition among commuters across the country after several people were fined bizarre amounts for breaking traffic guidelines. The new traffic rules came into effect from September 1 after the Ministry of Law and Justice passed the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019, imposing steeper fines on traffic violators.