Delhi traffic police undergoes major overhaul

To ensure the smooth flow of traffic in the national capital, a city that is often held hostage by snarls and congestion on its arterial stretches during peak hours, the Delhi traffic police is being overhauled to make its functioning and structuring similar to that of the Delhi Police, which itself has seen some major reforms after the incumbent police commissioner Rakesh Asthana took over charge in July
According to the new structuring, Delhi has been divided into 15 traffic districts. (HT Photo)
According to the new structuring, Delhi has been divided into 15 traffic districts. (HT Photo)
Updated on Oct 23, 2021 12:17 AM IST
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By, New Delhi

To ensure the smooth flow of traffic in the national capital, a city that is often held hostage by snarls and congestion on its arterial stretches during peak hours, the Delhi traffic police is being overhauled to make its functioning and structuring similar to that of the Delhi Police, which itself has seen some major reforms after the incumbent police commissioner Rakesh Asthana took over charge in July.

An order regarding the restructuring of the traffic police systems and manpower was issued by Asthana on Wednesday and requisite steps are being taken to implement the directions, senior officer in the know of the matter said. The current strength of the traffic police is approximately 6,000 and after the restructuring, the strength of the force is expected to go up to 12,000 to 15,000, senior officers said.

“We are putting in place a restructured traffic management system in view of the growing traffic needs of Delhi and to make traffic regulation and management in the national capital smoother and more efficient to reduce public inconvenience due to increasing traffic congestion. There will be enhanced focus on road safety, road engineering and citizen service,” said Asthana.

The aim of the exercise, senior officers said, is to minimise inconvenience to public on account of congestion and jams, strengthening the existing mechanism for prosecution of traffic violations, effective coordination with all stakeholders in traffic management, and implementation of technology-based solutions. A proposal has also been prepared to increase the strength of traffic personnel for maximum visibility on roads to deal with snarls, enforcement of traffic rules, and penalisation of violations, the officers said.

According to the new structuring, Delhi has been divided into 15 traffic districts, akin to the existing 15 police districts that the city has for crime control and maintenance of law and order. The names of the traffic districts will be the same as the police districts and they will also be headed by deputy commissioners of police (DCPs).

In the new arrangement, there will be two joint commissioners of police (JCPs) having jurisdiction congruent to the two existing special commissioners of police (law and order) — from the law and order point of view, the city has been divided into zone 1 and zone 2. Before the restructuring, the traffic unit had only one JCP.

And similar to the six police ranges, the traffic police, too, will have six ranges and they will be headed by additional commissioners of police (addl CPs) and not JCPs as is the case in the police ranges.

Also, the number of traffic subdivisions have been increased to 30 from its existing 12. There will also be 67 traffic circles as opposed to the existing 53. The subdivisions will be headed by assistant commissioners of police (ACPs) while Inspectors will head the traffic circles, senior officers said.

“Among the many objectives that we want to achieve through the restructuring is providing a hassle-free commute and ensuring lesser traffic jams, apart from curbing road mishaps and fatalities. Increasing the districts and senior functionaries means reducing jurisdictional issues and responsibilities of an individual officer. That will help us in addressing traffic-related issues locally, through better coordination with our own personnel as well as other stakeholders,” said a senior traffic police officer, who did not want to be named.

Snarls and gridlocks, especially during peak hours, road accident fatalities, and limited growth of road infrastructure despite a rise in vehicular numbers are some of the key issues that the city is currently facing. Since the number of vehicles on roads during peak hours remains high, the idling time at traffic signals also increases, causing inconvenience to the public and adding to air pollution. Digging of roads as part of various development projects, VIP movements and public events also lead to route diversions and traffic chaos in the city, officers said.

Absence of adequate parking space is also a concern as that leads to rampant on-road parking, which reduces the available road width and hampers vehicular movement, said serving police officers as well as experts working on road safety and transport planning.

Welcoming the restructuring, Sewa Ram, professor (transport planning) at the School of Planning and Architecture, said, “It’s a long pending decision. More traffic personnel would mean better visibility and coordination with stakeholders for implementation of projects for improving traffic management and road safety. Local deployment of traffic personnel will mean that they will be responsible for all traffic-related problems at that particular traffic junction. In case there is a jam or an accident, the traffic personnel will not have to depend on the centralised command for directions; they would be in a position to convey to the district/circle concerned the need for a route diversion so that a jam is avoided. The decision-making will be much quicker.”

Police data shows that since 2020, 2,026 people have lost their lives in 7,338 mishaps on Delhi roads, which, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), put Delhi at the top in road accident deaths in 2019, when compared with 18 other metropolitan cities such as Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.

While other experts also welcomed the restructuring, they pointed out that the objectives will only be achieved if it is implemented on the ground, keeping in mind the issues faced by the public, especially motorists.

“I welcome this move because, globally, we have seen that when it comes to road safety and traffic management, things improved when the capacity of the police was increased. Increasing the capacity and doing a more logical distribution district-wise will help in curbing road accidents and bring about better traffic management. But all this will be possible only when things are implemented on the ground. Our only recommendation to the Delhi Police is that within each district, it should at least have one inspector-level officer designated for road safety,” said Piyush Tewari, founder and CEO, SaveLIFE Foundation, a non-profit NGO that works on improving road safety and emergency medical care.

Former IPS officer Qamar Ahmad, who also served as Delhi traffic police chief, said, “Although I am aware of the new arrangement in the traffic police unit, visibility of traffic personnel on streets would certainly lead to less chaos and accidents, especially if the deployment is done strategically during night hours.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Karn Pratap Singh has been writing on crime, policing, and issues of safety in Delhi for almost a decade. He covers high-intensity spot news, including terror strikes, serial blasts and security threats in the national capital.

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