The Mumbai police has learned a lesson from the flash strike called by Western Railway motormen on July 20 this year brought vehicular movement in the city to a grinding halt as traffic cops looked on helplessly, unaware of how to manage the situation which could have potentially catalysed into a law and order problem.
The incident prompted the Mumbai police administration to streamline the co-ordination between the traffic and the law and order branches of the city police (under whose jurisdiction fall the 92 police stations across the city).
A recent directive from the office of the commissioner to the traffic department asked them to plug the gaps in coordination with the law and order department, by chalking out a Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) to deal with situations that could arise in such emergencies.
"The traffic police should identify the ways in which they can deal with emergencies as and when they arise, by earmarking diversions and increasing deployment, so that vehicular movement is not affected. Chaos on roads owing to traffic blockages can result in law and order situations," a senior official told HT.
"The traffic police makes such arrangements for scheduled events, such as festivals. They have to be prepared for emergencies too," he added.
The law and order branch has an SOP in place, which is implemented during such emergencies. The SOP includes a plan for movement and increased deployment, and calls for a coordinated effort with nearby police stations and reserves. Each police station in the city has a contingency plan.
A senior official from the traffic police department confirmed that they had received the directive and said that they were working out a plan.
"The methodology to have greater coordination with the law and order department on a daily basis is being chalked out and would be detailed soon for every area of the city," the official said.
Citing an example, he said that during nakabandis, assistance would be sought from the local police for providing extra manpower. Similarly a plan to seek assistance from police stations for additional manpower is also being worked out.
The traffic police department has already devised its own SoP to meet emergencies. This includes sending mass text messages and using the traffic police website to intimate motorists about diversions and blockages, to reduce inconvenience.