The long-pending changes to the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2007 that proposes stricter punishment for traffic violations was recently passed by the Rajya Sabha. However, with the current staff crunch and lack of infrastructure with the Mumbai traffic police, questions have been raised over the effective implementation of the bill in the city.
“The bill will definitely act as a deterrent to offenders. However, the government should first work on improving the strength and infrastructure of the police, which are key factors in the execution of the bill, else, it will be inconsequential,” said an officer from the traffic police, requesting anonymity. Despite the sanctioned strength of 2,500 men, the Mumbai traffic police have about 750 posts lying vacant at present. Hence, traffic policemen say, at any given time the police have only 400 to 500 traffic constables to cater to the entire city, creating enforcement problems.
“The Mumbai traffic police look after at least 60 sections concerning traffic regulations and violations. If the government is looking at increasing fines for offenders, they should also focus on the current fundamental problems of the traffic police,” said another officer from the city’s traffic police. Traffic officers said there have been plans to hike random checking and nakabandis so that the law once passed by the Lok Sabha can be implemented effectively. However, the staff crunch in the past has meant such plans almost never see fruition.
“Although we have 1,750 policemen working on the ground, if you consider the three shifts a day, the reserve leave, etc, for any given shift, only 400 to 500 men are available. Even if you consider patrolling the 7,000 parking zones in the city, it is impossible to cover them with the available staff,” the officer said.
Another problem, officers say, is the lack of traffic equipment with the police. This crunch, they say, is to be blamed on the government. “In Bangalore, at least 50% of the enforcement fines collected by the traffic police is ploughed back to them. These funds are used for buying traffic equipment. But we do not have any such provisions in our state,” the officer said.
The police said around three years ago, the Mumbai traffic police had approached the state government with a proposal akin to the traffic enforcement funds in Bangalore. Last year, the proposal was rejected.
Additional commissioner of police, traffic, Brijesh Singh, who admitted to the staff crunch, said, “We make strategic deployment of our men in order to overcome he shortfall.”