The city is supposed to have 2,500 traffic cops for managing traffic and maintaining discipline, but the department is short of 750 personnel. The result: at any given time, there are only 400 to 500 traffic policemen catering to the entire city, said the traffic police, making it tough to keep a check on drink driving.
"The Mumbai traffic police have to handle at least 60 offences concerning traffic regulations and violations - drink driving being the major one. As it is, it is difficult to monitor drink-driving offenders. But with the staff crunch, the problem is worse," said an official from the traffic police force, requesting anonymity.
The department has drawn up plans to increase the number of random checks and nakabandis so that few people will dare to drive after drinking, but the staff shortage has stalled these plans. "Though we have 1,750 working policemen on the ground, if you consider the three shifts in a day, the reserve leaves and everything, in any given shift, only 400 to 500 men are available," the officer said. "Even if you consider patrolling the 7,000 parking zones in the city, it is impossible to cover them with the staff available."
Ever since the MPSC scam that hit the state a decade ago, the state has faced a recruitment backlog. The other big problem is the lack of equipment.
"If you consider Bangalore, at least 50% of the enforcement fines collected is ploughed back. The funds are used to buy the latest equipment, among other things. But we don't have any such provisions in our state," said the official.
Around three years ago, the Mumbai traffic police had approached the state government with a proposal akin to the traffic enforcement funds in Bangalore, officials said. But after keeping the project pending for almost two years, in 2011, the state rejected the proposal.