SP Traffic Dehradun, Sweety Agarwal
Managing a city with 6 lac vehicles can never be easy and if the city happens to be the Capital of Uttarakhand, where everyone is apparently related to or knows a VIP things can get tough for the men in blue. On their feet for at least, 6 hours a day, Dehra Dun’s traffic policemen are not only unsung but often abused.
Says Ms. Sweety Agarwal, SP Traffic, who after completing almost a year in the department, had just received her new posting orders. “When I came to Dehra Dun, I knew this would not be an easy task. Uttarakhand being a nascent state, systems here are still in a developmental phase, yet to get their final shape” she says.
Manning over 300 sq.kms of the city with just 162 constables, one Interceptor Vehicle and no traffic lights is a tough task. “Even though the authorized strength of our beat constables is just 100, the administration has been kind enough to give us 162, but even that enables us to man only the central parts of Dehra Dun, the peripheral areas are unattended. Once the traffic lights are installed then we can start manning the outskirts. To cover the entire city well, we need over 300 constables” she admits.
Even as the Delhi Traffic police struggles to implement an E-Challan System, the Dehra Dun Traffic Police, in spite of its limited resources, has been using it for the past one and a half years. E- Challan is a challan printed out of a hand held device which is connected to a Central Server in the Police HQ by GPRS. It can immediately access the history of the vehicle and the owner’s details. Unfortunately, since the Police Network is not linked to the NIC net, while the RTO Server is, updating the data is done manually with a CD, once a month. Also, since this server is also not linked to other Police Stations in the State, data of only vehicles registered in Dehra Dun is available, further restricting its use.
“Hopefully, with time all these shortcomings will be overcome” says Sweety. The department is obviously handicapped by the absence of trained IT professionals in its ranks. When questioned, Sweety admitted that her computers are manned by police constables who have received only “on the job” training on use of computers. “Continuous in-house training and establishing a separate in house department of IT professionals could perhaps make our force tech savvy” she agrees.
Identifying aggressive behavior of Doonites as something the police has to grapple with daily, she says that some women are so aggressive and abusive, that even the constables are scared of them. “Then there is a problem of name throwing. People when fined try to bully the policemen by calling up heavy weights and some even physically assault them. Recently the owner of a wrongly parked black Xylo even tried to brow beat me by naming a VVIP’s” recalls Sweety. “I wish people would follow the example set by recently by Somnath Chatterjee, when after unknowingly violating a no-car zone in Mussorie, he insisted on being fined. If VIP’s step forward by setting an example on such occasions, then other people will not be able to misuse their names” she feels.
When asked about the complaints of non-availability of a back up battery for wireless handsets used by policemen on duty, Sweety said that while she understood the difficulties faced by them, tendering in government is a long drawn out process and she is trying to install charging points at traffic booths. Acknowledging that complaints are received about the ineffectiveness of the rain coats issued to policemen and said that the department is trying to find supplier of a good quality water proof rain coats. She refused to comment whether lack of funds was the reason behind a majority of traffic policemen not getting the white & blue uniform.
As she leaves office, she admits that one problem she could not solve despite trying very hard was the activation of basement parking. Basements are meant for parking in all multi storey buildings and shopping complexes, but most of them are used as stores while some have set up shops there. “Every time we tried to make the basements functional as parking lots, pressure was brought on us and as a result vehicles are always parked on the road, thereby causing traffic obstruction.”
“The biggest asset of the force” she says “are the men in blue. Hardworking and mostly honest these men work in scorching sunshine and in rain, doing the best they can so that you and I can drive home comfortably and safely. The six hour duty they do is strenuous, using their hands all the time to direct the traffic. Even if at times you don’t agree with them, please give them the credit they deserve”.
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