New Delhi: Come May 1, 'lal batti' cars or vehicles with red beacons will be a thing of the past as the government has barred their use by VVIPs, including the President, the Prime Minister and chief ministers.
Seeking to end the VIP culture, the Union Cabinet today decided that beacon lights will be removed from all vehicles, except emergency vehicles, like ambulances and fire brigade.
The vehicles with beacon lights, which are seen as a symbol of VIP culture, "have no place in a democratic country", the government said.
"After May 1, no one will be able to put red light atop his/her vehicle. Blue light will be used only for emergency vehicles in the country...Neither the states nor the Centre will have power to give any special permission (for use of beacon lights)," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said after the Cabinet meeting.
He said the use of red beacons atop vehicles has been a matter of discussion and debates for long as to why certain people have special privileges on road.
The matter was under discussion for some time and "the Prime Minister took the decision and informed the Cabinet," Jaitley said, adding amendments will be made soon in the Central Motor Vehicles Rules to give effect to the decision. A rule that empowers the Centre or state governments to allow use of red beacon lights to dignitaries will be altogether removed from the statute books, the minister said.
"There will be no exception for anyone. The reason is very clear that the rule itself is being removed from the rule book," he added.
Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari was the first Union Minister who took the red beacon off his official vehicle immediately after the Cabinet meeting.