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PTI

The Odisha government has accorded the power to special police officers (SPOs) deployed on highways to impose penalties on traffic rule violators, a notification said.

SPOs of and above the rank of Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) deployed for highway patrolling on national highways can impose fines for safety rule violations like drunken driving, non-wearing of helmet and seatbelt, the use of mobile phone while driving, a notification issued by the Commerce and Transport Department said on Tuesday.

The order will come into force with effect from the date of its publication in the Official Gazette, the notification said.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in February 2021 had launched the highway patrol initiative on 18 stretches of state and national highways to save the lives of accident victims.

The highway patrolling units have been engaged on different routes in Ganjam, Berhampur, Khurda, Angul, Bargarh, Rourkela, Balasore, Bhadrak, Puri, Jajpur, and Cuttack.

The state government has appointed retired police and defence personnel as SPOs to man highway patrolling.

As many as 36 highway patrol teams have been engaged on five highly vulnerable stretches, including 36 mini stretches in the districts, to enforce traffic-related rules and shift accident victims to nearby hospitals, officials said.

In 2021, a total of 10,984 road accident cases were reported in the state in which 5,081 people died and 9,782 were injured, they said.

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