Silvester D'Souza/Harshini Brahmavar
Pics: Umesh Marpalli
Daijiworld Media Network - Kundapur/Udupi (SP)
Kundapur/Udupi, Jan 23: The Supreme Court directive to make wearing of helmets compulsory everywhere for two-wheeler riders and pillion riders has finally been implemented in the state. The earlier directive, as per which it was made mandatory for two-wheeler riders alone to wear helmets within the limits of city corporations in the state, has been expanded to cover pillion riders and extended to the entire state including rural places.
The police personnel are gearing up to enforce this rule strictly in both Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts from February 1 onward. They have been spreading awareness about this new rule and also the need to wear helmets to safeguard the lives of those who travel by two-wheelers.
Retail helmet dealers are having a heyday in the midst of rush for buying helmets at the last minute. During the last some days, a number of helmet sales centres have raised their heads across the town and other places. At any point of the day one can witness a crowd around these centres, selecting a helmet based on their interests, style, and financial impact. Such crowds were last seen in front of banks when a campaign to open savings bank accounts was launched by Narendra Modi government, when Aadhar cards were intorudced, and again in front of Nemmadi Kendras of the state government.
There are however allegations that people involved with sales of helmets have been cheating the gullible buyers, taking advantage of their helplessness. Some say that helmets are being sold two to three times their original prices, and many a time, helmets without ISI mark are also sold at high prices. Taking cue from these developments, policemen of the taluk led by town circle inspector, P M Diwakar, and traffic police station house officer, Jayanna, have undertaken the task of creating awareness about buying helmets.
The police, as part of this campaign, visited several helmets sales centres on Wednesday evening, and checked whether the helmets bore ISI marks. They instructed the concerned not to jack up helmet prices unreasonably, and warned of taking action against sellers if they receive complaints about sale of helmets without ISI mark and quoting unreasonable prices. They also said that the policemen will impose fine on two-wheeler riders wearing helmets, if the helmets do not have ISI mark.
Rumours making the rounds here also say that fake ISI marks are being embossed on even those helmets which do not conform to the standards prescribed. It need not come as a surprise, in view of these developments, if in future, policemen seek to check helmet purchase bills too in addition to vehicle registration certificate, driving licence, pollution control certificate, and valid insurance policy.
The traffic police in Udupi is all geared up to enforce the rule from February 1. "The grace period for the enforcement of mandatory helmet has been extended till January 31. So far, the traffic police have not fined any pillion rider without wearing helmets. The cops are creating awareness among bike riders at main junctions such as Kalsanka, Bannanje, Karavali, Diana and other places. From February 1, it will be mandatory for both rider and pillion to wear helmet or face the fine in any cases of violation." said SP Annamalai.
In Udupi, two-wheeler riders are facing an acute shortage of helmets, despite new shops mushrooming in different parts of the city. As per an estimate, around 1,500 helmets are being sold per day.
More than ten helmet outlets, including roadside vendors, have been set up to provide helmets to customers in and around the city.
Reagan D’Silva, owner of St Antony Cycle Work says, "From the last two to three days, we are getting huge demand for helmets. The customers are quiet confused about which brand of ISI marked helmet they should purchase.
"At present three types of helmet are found in the market, viz full face, half face and open face. Generally, the ladies prefer half face or open face. But the demand for the full faced helmets is more," he added.
"The price for a branded ISI helmets varies from Rs 500 to Rs 5,000. People generally buy cheap helmets costing Rs 500. Non-ISI helmets are also available in the market and their prices start from Rs 200, but they are not in demand.
"Street vendors sell ordinary helmets at a low price, but it does not affect our business because customers prefer branded products. We focus on service and the quality of the product," he said.
"Making even children wear helmets compulsorily is not right. The biggest problem is the non-availability of sizes for them. We are stocking up helmets on a daily basis to cater to the needs of customers," said Reagan.