The traffic lights at the main chowk of the Kotkapura town have been lying non-functional for the past about two years and the traffic police have put up empty oil drums temporarily in a circular form to regulate traffic. However, the drums also pose a great risk to commuters.
In the beginning, the police termed the move an experiment and a temporary one, but so far, neither a proper chowk has been constructed, nor lights have been made to function.
About a decade earlier, the municipal committee, Kotkapura, had allegedly demolished the old chowk which was in a good condition and switched to the modern system of controlling traffic by installing traffic lights.
The lights worked for some time, though not regularly, but then were allegedly switched off on the verbal orders of a local Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader, allegedly to relieve the people of frequent traffic jams in the city.
"The traffic lights should be made functional because the temporary chowk built by putting up empty oil drums could lead to serious accidents. The lights were switched off and drums kept to ease the movement of private buses and influential people who did not like waiting for the green signal at the traffic lights. The parking of the buses on the Muktsar road is also a very big problem because the buses are parked on the road and they hinder the smooth flow of traffic," said Omkar Goyal, president of the All-India retailers association from Kotkapura.
"On the one hand, the state government claims that the state is developing and the traffic system is being improved, but on the other hand, traffic is being regulated by putting up empty drums on roundabouts," said Uday Randev, a social worker from Kotkapura.
This is the only important crossing in the town with a population of about 85,000. The other problem is that of stray animals, that can often be seen squatting on roads.
The municipal committee had installed traffic lights by demolishing the old chowk, but it had failed to remove the alleged encroachments and providing lanes along all the four roads to ease traffic on the main roads. One lane built along the Faridkot road is always blocked by the buses parked there. No lane has been constructed along the Jaitu road, but the narrow Jaitu and Moga roads were divided in tow lanes by putting up stones in the middle.
"The municipal committee is now getting the traffic lights repaired and they would be made functional soon," said Mohan Singh Matta, president of the municipal committee, Kotkapura.