With increasing numbers of vehicles, the traffic snarls and jams have become one of the major problems in Patiala for the past many years.
Though Patiala traffic police claim they are now controlling vehicular traffic in a better way but high traffic volume and long queues of vehicles at bottleneck points during peak hours often expose the failure of traffic police in this regard.
Unplanned rallies, burning of effigies and road blockade protests also add to the worries of the traffic police as such demonstrations lead to traffic jams on the roads.
For the past several days, the traffic police and local commuters had a tough time due to the road blockage protest by Pepsu Road transport Corporation (PRTC) contractual employees and pensioners, besides the chakka jam programme of the Punjab Pradesh Congress committee.
Lack of driving sense and poor awareness of traffic rules among the people, especially underage drivers, also create chaos on the roads.
As per the data available, as many as 682 accidents were reported in Patiala district in 2013, in which around 423 persons lost their lives while 695 were injured.
During this period, the traffic police served 31,598 challans on the spot and collected around Rs. 1 crore as fine, while 38,731 cases were sent to the local court wherein around Rs. 1.5 crore of amount was collected as fine.
In an interview with Hindustan times, Deputy Superintendent of Police (traffic) Nahar Singh talks about traffic management across the city.
Q. To control traffic chaos caused by unplanned protests during the last 10 days had been a herculean task for traffic police. Is Patiala traffic police capable enough to tackle such situations?
Ans: Though the city witnessed several protests and road blockades during this period, the police managed to control the situation by diverting the traffic to alternative routes. Traffic jams were reported but attempts were always made to ensure smooth flow of traffic within a few minutes.
Q. Has not traffic chaos become a regular scene on Patiala roads?
Ans: No, that's not true. We are well capable of managing the traffic efficiently. We have already prepared emergency plans to control traffic in case of instant traffic chaos. We have also deployed extra policemen at bottleneck points to ease traffic situation.
Q.Have you been provided with adequate staff and equipments?
Ans. Shortage of staff always remains but presently, we have adequate number of police personnel to oversee traffic at district level. We also have sufficient staff for VIP duties. Moreover, all required equipments are provided by the state government, while over-speed interceptor vehicles are hired from Chandigarh.
Q. Is there any traffic management plan for Patiala city on the anvil?
Ans. We, along with the assistance of Municipal Corporation and district administration, are going to identify special routes, no-vehicle areas and separate routes for heavy traffic. A private company has been hired to conduct a survey in this regard.
Q. Don't you think that lack of awareness about traffic norms among the people leads to traffic chaos and mismanagement?
Ans. To spread awareness about traffic rules and regulations will remain the key agenda for us in 2014. In 2013, we have delivered around 632 lectures which were attended by around 1.76 people at different places including educational institutions, bus stands and truck unions. During the recently concluded 25th traffic week, several awareness campaigns were launched extensively.
Q. Underage driving is one of the main problems? How is traffic police coping with it?
Ans. We have already held a meeting with school principals and asked them to be strict against underage students who come to school on their vehicles. Though traffic personnel have been directed not to spare underage rivers, cooperation of school managements in this regard can help in a big way.
Q. Who are the major violators of traffic rules?
Ans. Two wheeler drivers constitute a major chunk among defaulters as we have slapped fines in around 1,98,727 cases for driving without helmets, in 9,736 cases for red light jump, 8,258 for not wearing seat belt and 5,190 for not having driving license in 2,013.