Mumbai’s roads are not new to accidents, but the response of the Mumbai traffic police to major accidents like the one involving the 35-year-old advocate on the Eastern Freeway has always been knee-jerk and not preventive.
The Bombay high court has asked the Mumbai police commissioner Rakesh Maria and the joint commissioner of police (traffic) Milind Bharambe to make a presentation before it on how they plan to tackle traffic problems in the city.
An appropriate example of the lack of preventive measures is the absence of CCTV cameras on the Eastern Freeway, even two years after it was fully opened for use.
“Currently, there are no CCTV cameras on the freeway, but we are getting 6,000 CCTVs and by next year, we will have them installed on the stretch,” Bharambe told HT.
Sources in the traffic headquarters said the state had conducted a survey on four spots on the Eastern Freeway, where there is a need for the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras. The project has been underway since August last year, after the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority met the Mumbai traffic police about the installation of CCTVs and ANPR cameras.
Exacerbating the issue is the severe staff crunch faced by the department. At present, the strength of the traffic police force is just 3,312 for 25 the traffic police divisions.
Senior officials said most constables are posted at major junctions to regulate traffic –the prime duty of the department.
“The traffic police’s slogan for this year is ‘road safety is not just a slogan, but a way of life’. But the countless road safety campaigns organised across the city has not worked in favour of the department,” said Aadesh Joshi, 23, a final year CA student.
In the first quarter of the year, 7,331 accidents were reported in the city, 159 of which ended fatally. A majority of the accidents were caused by speeding.
“It seems that the department is lacking a mechanism to bring the speedsters to book and there is little that the officials have managed to do this year,” said Uttaresh Iyer, a Kalina resident.