They have more wheels, but not enough men. On a day home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde flagged off 100 more police control room (PCR) vehicles, his ministry, sources claimed, told the Delhi Police to ‘arrange for drivers’ on their own.
Thanks to the austerity drive of the ministry of home affairs (MHA), the police’s dream of a 1000-strong fleet of PCR vans won’t become reality for at least two more months.
And as if things weren’t bad enough, the force exercised the only alternative available — pulling out men from each of the 11 districts to drive the 100-odd new vans around. Around 1,600 personnel have been pulled out for the purpose so far.
Sources said this was an uphill task with officers deputed as assistant commissioners of police (ACP) and above, who ‘utilise’ the services of more than one driver, opposing the move.
“We have roughly been able to manage enough manpower for the 100 of the 370 sanctioned vehicles from within the department, which is from the central police control room (CPCR),” admitted an officer.
“The fate of the remaining fleet remains uncertain; we need at least 800 more personnel for the same.”
At the moment, between 50 and 70 PCR vans are officially dead while a hundred or so are sick — having reached the stage of ‘official condemnation’ as they have been in service for a period of six years or have run 1,50,000 kilometres — and on the verge of becoming unusable.
This takes the tally of functional PCR vans — after adding the 370 newly-sanctioned ones — to over 850; less than the magic number of a 1,000 which the department has been trying to reach since May last year.
“It’s not just about drivers,” the officer explained.
“The PCR is a specialised unit and each PCR van requires a team of at least four officers consisting of a driver, an operator who acts as in-charge and one to two gunmen to function efficiently.”
The personnel pulled out from district units will be replaced by fresh recruits currently undergoing training.