Gurugram cops ditch loudspeakers,take to Twitter for traffic updates
Lakhs wasted :Of 20 speakers, most are defunct; residents want them shut due to excess noise
Five months after the Gurugram Police installed loudspeakers at 40 intersections in the city, some of them are non-functional and none of them broadcast live messages or traffic updates, an HT spot check at five random locations has revealed.
When the speakers were being installed, city police commissioner KK Rao had said that traffic updates would be broadcast live through the speakers, a first in the country, apart from pre-recorded messages on traffic rules.
“If there is a traffic jam in an area, then we will announce the best alternative routes through the loudspeakers. This is the first time in the country that live broadcasting of traffic updates will be done through loudspeakers,” commissioner Rao had said in August last year.
Of the five locations HT visited, speakers were not functioning at the Sector 42/27 intersection and Galleria Market intersections. While speakers at Kanhai Chowk and Bakhtawar Chowk were not audible, the ones at Huda City Centre were working fine—they were broadcasting pre-recorded messages. But none of the speakers at the five locations were broadcasting live traffic updates or live messages.
When asked about the current condition of the speakers, the commissioner said that they had started a Twitter handle for the traffic police, and traffic updates were given through it. “A Twitter handle is better than speakers. Also, there are not a lot of jams (traffic) in the city,” Rao said.
Though the initial plan was to install speakers at 40 intersections in the city at a cost of ₹24 lakh, speakers were installed only at 20 locations at a cost of ₹12 lakh in September, Hitesh Yadav, assistant commissioner of police (traffic), said.
When asked about the speakers at the Sector 42/27 intersection being switched off after residents allegedly complained to the police, Rao said that it should not have happened.
“Earlier, we had received complaints from residents about the speakers, and I had instructed the police to change the direction of the speakers, if they were facing any residential area,” the commissioner said. And as for traffic policemen not giving instructions at intersections through speakers using the two microphones provided at each intersection, Rao said that the onus is on the traffic police, as they had been instructed to do so.
At all the five intersections, the two microphones provided at each police traffic booth for live updates were found to be unused. In one case, the microphones were found gathering dust in a paper bag and at another traffic police chowki, one of the microphone’s cables was found allegedly bitten through by a rat.
The city police maintained they would keep using the speakers to broadcast pre-recorded messages and provide traffic updates via Twitter.
Stepping out of the driver seat of his auto-rickshaw at Kanhai junction, Sabir Khan, 20, craned his neck towards the speaker and said, “I can’t hear anything.”
Khan, who ferries people across the city every day, said that he hasn’t noticed the speakers before.
Hindustan Times talked to several commuters at two of the five intersections, and all except one said that they had never seen police officers using microphones to make announcements. All of them said that there were no live traffic updates given through the speakers.
At Kanhai, the speakers, fixed on a metal pole, were playing pre-recorded messages at a low volume, and apart from urging people to follow traffic rules, the message also asked people to keep the city clean and wished them a happy new year.
At Huda City Centre, Ranjeet, 24, another auto-rickshaw driver said, “There are only one or two places in which it is audible, in other areas it’s hard to tell whether the speaker is there or not.”
At the traffic police chowki at the intersection, a constable fished out one of the microphones from a drawer after quite a search. Examining it, he said, “It looks like rats have bitten it off. Don’t know how they reach here.”
At the Sector 27/42 intersection, a traffic constable said, “The speakers were working for about three months. After that, ACP sir asked us to turn them off as residents were complaining about them.” The constable could not find the microphones.
Sarika Panda Bhatt, head of integrated transport and road safety with World Resources Institute, India, said that the police should concentrate on “engineering and enforcement” if they wanted people to follow traffic rules and reduce accidents.
“Putting up speakers at intersections in not a new idea, but it is not workable or sustainable. By listening to traffic rules, people are not going to follow them; there should be strong enforcement,” Bhatt said.
She said that putting up more CCTV cameras at intersections would be a better idea as they would strengthen enforcement.