.........BHUBANESWAR: Hours after the Union Cabinet decided to end the VVIP culture in the country, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday directed withdrawal of red beacons from vehicles of all VIPs of the State. Leading by example, the CM returned from the State Secretariat by taking the red beacon off his official car.
All Ministers, senior officers of the State Government, political leaders and special appointees of the Government will now have to do away with the use of red beacons on their vehicles.
In 2014, the State Government had issued a list of people eligible to use red beacons on their vehicles as per the Supreme Court ruling in 2013.
The dignitaries who were allowed to use red beacon (along with a flasher) were the Governor, the CM, the Chief Justice and Judges of Orissa High Court, Speaker of the State Assembly, Cabinet Ministers and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly. The Deputy Speaker of the Assembly, Ministers of State and Deputy Ministers were allowed to use only red light (without a flasher.)
Besides, the Government had permitted dignitaries, who are authorised to display the National Flag as per the Flag Code of India, to be eligible for use of flickering red lights on their vehicles. The Advocate General of the State was also eligible for using red light.
The Government had also extended the VIP status to people whose positions in the Government is equivalent to rank of a Cabinet Minister or Minister of State such as Chief Whip, Deputy Chief Whip, advisors to the State Government and Deputy Chairman of the State Planning Board.
MLAs heading the district planning committee were also given the rank of Minister of State and were found using the red beacons. In many cases, DSP-ranked officers used the red light though they are not entitled to. In many cases, senior officers of Income Tax Department used the same. District Collectors also used the light against the norm although as Magistrates, they were allowed.
Senior BJD leader and Cooperation Minister Damodar Rout said he had done it as a Minister in the Biju Patnaik Government. ‘’What is there in a red light? It is only a status symbol,” he added.
Recently, Leader of Opposition and senior Congress MLA Narasingh Mishra had shunned the VVIP culture of using red light and police escort.