Cops in this tribal state will now not only enforce the law against criminals and fight naxalites, but also keep a hawk's eye on citizens messing the streets and littering it with dirt and garbage.
This unprecedented step comes on the heels of a recently concluded national civic survey, which has branded the State capital of Chhattisgarh as the dirtiest city in the country.
Faced with shortage of manpower and already overloaded with several pending major criminal cases the Raipur police will have to also shoulder the burden of ensuring cleanliness in the city, a role the Raipur Municipal Corporation (RMC) has failed to deliver so far.
It was decided by the state police chief OP Rathor in a recent meeting with senior police officials as a damage control exercise in Raipur city, which is plummeting from bad to worse as the dirtiest city.
No sooner the order came, the police swung into action and slapped punitive fines on over 1500 people in just three days since the drive began. However, there are only few takers for the new responsibility given to the police force as some police officers have expressed displeasure at it.
“Why should the already overstrained police force be burdened with a job which the municipal corporation has failed to deliver?” said an official on condition of anonymity.
Yet another police official fears that the drive may or may not succeed but it would surely hit hard crime detection and other related law enforcing chores by the police.
However, Raipur Senior Superintendent of Police BS Marawi asserted that maintaining cleanliness comes under regular policing activity. “Under the Police Act, Section 34, throwing garbage in public places figures within the definition of crime”, says Marawi.
The drive is under operation in all the 21 police thanas of the capital. The Station House Officers (SHOs) of various thanas admit the police is under pressure due to staff shortage.
The state police record indicates that the crime graph in the capital is consistently on the rise since the creation of new Chhattisgarh state in November 2000.
The new role for the police here has brought cheers to the RMC Mayor Sunil Soni who expects that the drive would provide a facelift to the city. “Unless fear does not enter into people’s psyche the cleanliness system could not function properly”, said Soni.
Though intelligentsia are not ready to buy this contention. “Terrifying people to resolve any problem is not a solution rather the efforts should be aimed towards creating awareness and seeking people’s participation”, said Ramakant Kunwar a retired professor.
Similarly advocate Nilesh Thakur stated that police can only prevent but the onus lies on the RMC to maintain cleanliness of the city. Dr JB Gupta of Medicine department in Ambedkar hospital denounced the move to maintain cleanliness by force. “Only awareness through linking cleanliness and hygiene with public health can help”, said Gupta.