Once considered as the role model by the central government, the Highway Patrol and Road Safety (HPRS) wing of the Haryana police has now become a lifeless department.
Established in 2000, the HPRS is headquartered in Karnal, chief minister ML Khattar's city. An Indian Police Service (IPS) rank officer is designated as the assistant inspector general (AIG) of police.
However, official sources said that the department has not seen a fulltime workforce for the past more than three years.
IPS officer Sibash Kabiraj, who is currently posted as deputy inspector general (DIG) with the Haryana armed police, Madhuban, Karnal, has been handling HPRS as an additional charge for the past few years.
"Being the nodal office for the traffic regulation, HPRS' role is restricted to dispatch circulars and other official correspondence to the district police authorities. If the state authorities give a serious thought to reorganise it, HPRS could play an important role in the road safety and regain its past glory," says a district police chief on the condition of anonymity.
In the wake of a number of accidents on various highways, the the Om Prakash Chautala government in 2000 had formed the HPRS.
"At that time, a total of 19 traffic aid centres (TACs) were established at a stretch of every 30 km on the four national highways namely NH-1, 8, 10 and 22. These TACs were equipped with an ambulance with paramedical staff, a crane, a jeep, motorcycle and manned by a team of 17 personnel, including policemen, to ensure prompt medical air to the accident victims," said another senior functionary recalling the role of the then HPRS head V Kamaraja.
"A thorough professional, Kamaraja led the department very efficiently. His aggressive enforcement of traffic rules on the highways aimed at reducing mishaps was duly recognised by the central agencies also. Haryana's road safety project was adopted as a model by the Union ministry of road transport and highways which had directed other states to follow it," he said.
Later, TACs were converted into traffic police stations and the model department started losing significance.
At present, the highways are controlled by the respective district police authorities. Meanwhile, Chandigarh-based road safety activist Harman Sidhu said that HPRS should be revived with a committed police official in seat who is backed with ample powers.
"HPRS should be utilised to study road safety models and work on its execution. The wing should be empowered to coordinate with public works department (PWD), the National Highway Authority of India and other departments to ensure road safety mechanism for road conditions, flyovers, bridges etc," he said.
Also, the HPRS should be mandated to work beyond official correspondence and keep a regular check on the implementation of traffic rules by the district police authorities, he added.