Police in Goa have prosecuted around 7.74 lakh traffic violators in 2018, which amounts to more than half of the state’s population of 1.5 million, according to statistics released by Director General of Police Muktesh Chander.
Addressing a press conference on Monday in Panaji, the senior officer also said that it was “absurd” to attribute a drop in tourism footfalls to Goa due to harassment of tourists by traffic police personnel.
“There has been a significant increase of 48 per cent in prosecution of traffic offenders as compared to the corresponding year. Notably, the Goa Police prosecuted 7,74,578 traffic violators and collected fines amounting to Rs 9.19 crore (in 2018),” a statement released by the DGP said.
The state’s population according to the 2011 official census is 14.59 lakh.
Calling accusations from the travel and tourism industry stakeholders that tourism footfalls in Goa have dropped because of harassment of tourists by traffic police as “absurd”, Chander said the Motor Vehicles Act makes no distinction between tourists and local residents.
“There is nothing which says that foreigners are exempted from the Motor Vehicles Act in India. Is there a law by the Tourism Department anywhere that (says) they are exempted? So there is nothing like that. Everybody has to follow traffic laws,” he told the media.
“And if a traffic officer is prosecuting a traffic offender, it does not matter whether he is a foreigner or whether he is a tourist or whether he is a local Goan. So there is no question of harassment.
“People should obey traffic rules. That is all. Nobody will harass them,” Chander said, adding that if there were specific complaints of harassment, then the police would be willing to look into them.
The opposition in the past has also accused traffic policemen of harassing tourists, especially those driving self-driven vehicles hired in Goa or travelling in vehicles with outstation number plates.
Goa is one of the top beach and nightlife tourism destinations in the country and last year attracted more than seven million tourists, out of which half a million were foreigners.