The writing on the banners is loud and clear: ‘In case of corruption, call the state Highway Traffic Police’.
The helpline numbers are listed in bold. The Highway Traffic Police which lost its powers to fine errant motorists because of internal corruption 20 years ago are now calling motorists and members of the public to bring instances of corruption in their department to their notice.
In August 2009, the state Highway Traffic Police regained their power to fine drivers and impound their licences under the Motor Vehicles’ Act.
Without that, they were reduced to a mere patrolling body. Now, they want to ensure their own people are clean.
“Two hundred banners with printed helpline numbers have been put up along highways all over Maharashtra,” said Rajesh Bansode, superintendent of the Highway Traffic Police. “It is on these numbers that people can call up or SMS their complaints.”
The helpline numbers are 95032-11100 and 95035-11100.
Motorists can report grievances or lodge complaints of bribery against the highway traffic police on these numbers.
“The helpline was launched last month. Till January 13, it has received 30 calls from drivers but none of them was to complain about traffic policemen,” said Bansode. Bansode said complaints will immediately be forwarded to the respective area’s control room.
Since the highway police started fining motorists in August, the number of deaths in highway accidents has reduced by 991 and accidents have gone down by 665.
The highway police hope the helplines will help curb corruption by making the department approachable to drivers.
“If we receive complaints about corruption or harassment by the highway police, we will deal with them in 24 hours,” said Bansode.
The police have maintained a register where all calls on the helpline are recorded along with the nature of the complaint.
Between August 15 and December 31, 2009, the highway traffic police have collected Rs 1.27 crore as fines from drivers flouting traffic rules.
They have prosecuted 1.17 lakh drivers for over-speeding, racing and driving without licences.