HERE’S A good reason to buy a big car. Chances are the traffic police will not tow it away even if you leave it in a no-parking zone. And you’ll save the Rs 800 fine, and the trip to the police station to get it released.
Almost all of the 11,978 vehicles towed away by traffic police in Delhi in February were either bikes, or small cars like Santros, Indicas and Marutis. The cops don’t have specific numbers, but they have no hesitation admitting that very few big vehicles like SUVs, and high-end sedans like Accords, Corollas or Skodas were towed away.
So why do small cars get specifically targeted? Because most cranes the police have are simply too small to pull away big vehicles.
And why don’t the police have bigger cranes? “We have more smaller cranes because they are easy to manoeuvre on congested roads,” says Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) S.N. Shrivastava. “But wherever needed, like on wider roads, we do deploy bigger cranes and sometimes, even a hydraulic crane is used.”
But doesn’t this mean people who can afford big cars get away with traffic violations for which relatively less well-off people are punished? “This is not done intentionally,” says Shrivastava. “The department is in the process of reviewing (the policy of having small cranes), and if needed, we will increase the number of bigger cranes,” he adds.
But this still doesn’t address the grievances of people who’ve had their car picked out of a row of vehicles by a traffic police tow-away crane.
Earlier this week, Anubhav Sharma of Gurgaon rushed out of a Vasant Kunj eatery just as his Maruti was being towed away. He asked the cranewallahs why his car had been targeted out of the several parked by the roadside.
“Kyunki aapki gaadi chhoti hai,” the cranewallahs told him.
Himanshu Sagar of Mayur Vihar had the same experience last week. “My Indica was towed away even though there were several other, bigger, vehicles parked in a so-called no parking zone in Lajpat Nagar,” he says.
What increases the frustration of Delhiites like Sharma and Sagar - and punctures the defence of traffic cop Shrivastava — is the fact that Mumbai, which has far more congested roads than Delhi, does not discriminate between big and small cars.
“All of Mumbai Police's towing cranes are capable of handling cars of any size. We don't discriminate. Though we do take a lot of precautions in handling expensive cars,” Mumbai's DCP (traffic) S.S. Solanke told Hindustan Times.
A lesson for Delhi Police here?