By Sahil Makkar
New Delhi : Barely two months after it was launched, a drive to crack the whip on Delhi's traffic offenders is losing steam. Lack of adequate policemen, surveillance equipment and the reckless attitude of drivers has put paid to all efforts.
"Where are those cops who could be spotted at all leading traffic signals, going for every single car with tinted glasses right after the drive was launched? They have disappeared suddenly," said Nisha Singh, a senior executive with a private firm.
"My driver has stopped fearing the drive. He jumps the traffic signals quite often when he sees that the cops are not around."
Though most commuter bus crews still wear uniforms in the morning, by evening these tend to disappear. The mandatory name badges on drivers have gone.
Buses and other vehicles are done with respecting stop lines and zebra crossings. Drivers can again be seen smoking or talking on the cell-phone in violation of the law.
Even Joint Commissioner of Police Qamar Ahmed admitted to IANS: "It is difficult to stop traffic violations on the city's roads in a short time. In the coming days, we will be intensifying the action against traffic violators."
The campaign against traffic violators began on April 9, following Delhi High Court directions on a number of issues – such as the drivers of private city buses as well as Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses would have to wear uniforms and name badges.
Smoking while driving was banned. The court also raised the minimum fine for traffic offences from Rs.100 to Rs.600 by adding Rs.500 as compounding fee. The judiciary directed that the licences of traffic violators should be punched and if a licence was punched five times, it would stand cancelled.
People were warned by traffic police against using mobile phones while driving, speeding, rash driving as well as having tinted glass windows for four-wheelers, pressure horns and unauthorised top and bonnet lights.
Deputy Commissioner of Police D.P. Verma told IANS: "The drive has not slackened. But initially we had posted officials at all significant traffic signals or intersections but right now we have spread them to every nook and corner of the city, so that no point would be left uncovered."
Another senior official said on the condition of anonymity, "No drive can be sustained for long with a handful of staff. There are only 2,500 traffic cops, including 350 prosecuting officers, in the city.
"Out of 2,500 policemen, many are involved in traffic management and a majority of the staff is fixed with administration work. So with such staff limitations we can't chase offenders on a day-to-day basis. We don't have the state-of-the-art equipments and gadgets," he added.
The official said there are around five million registered vehicles in the city and around half a million vehicles come from satellite towns every day. So it's nearly impossible for 350 prosecuting officers to punish every single offender.
Police officials say they are grappling with larger traffic problems.
"The court has directed us to cancel the driving licences of offenders but just tell us how many carry the original licence? People are very smart, if their driving document is cancelled, they get it easily from another state. We have no mechanism to check it," said Verma.
He said all traffic related documents should be fitted with electronic chips, so that various licence issuing authorities can know about the profiles of drivers beforehand.
"We need to connect all state departments with a common network," he said.
Another official said, "In other countries all such things are controlled electronically. They have vehicle-tracking devices fitted on every vehicle. All the significant intersections are manned with close circuit television cameras and if any one violates the laws, the agencies come to know immediately through their modern equipment, but we are still far behind."
"People have to understand their responsibility. They must follow laws for the sake of themselves and others," the official added.