The Gurugram businessman who helps cops control traffic
In March 2011, Neeraj Diwan, a resident of Palam Vihar, had to face what the residents of Gurugram generally dread — being stuck in a traffic jam that seemed never-ending.
“I was on my way to drop my nephew for his board exam and was stuck in a jam at the DT Mega Mall roundabout on the Golf Course Road,” he said.
Diwan got off the car and found that no one was following the traffic signal, which had caused the long jam. He tried managing the traffic on his own, but to no avail. Commuters were not willing to reason and wanted to force their way, he recalled. “So I stood in front of the vehicles that were supposed to stop and follow the red light, and refused to move till the vehicles who had the green signal passed. I remember horns were constantly blaring at me – a reflection of how angry the commuters were for making them wait,” he said. After doing this thrice, the congestion disappeared.
After this incident, he met the then deputy commissioner of police (Traffic) to discuss traffic issues and asked if he could help in curbing the city’s traffic menace. “He asked me to volunteer as a road safety officer in my free time,” Diwan said, adding that he readily agreed due to his interest and educational background on traffic management to contribute towards the society, as traffic was a major concern in the city.
Today, 57-year-old Diwan also manages the city traffic along with running a furniture export business. During peak hours in the morning and evening, he can be seen managing traffic at busy intersections in the city. A significant part of his day, seven hours to be precise, goes into planning traffic movements, diversions and issuing advisories. “The duty that comes with being a road safety officer (RSO) keeps me motivated to do the best I can with regard to traffic education, enforcement of rules and engineering,” he said.
Diwan prepares the blue chart of the area before planning any test run of the spot. He studies the bottlenecks of the particular traffic junction and executes the plan to remove the congestion with the help of traffic police officers.
He is the most experienced road safety officer of Gurugram out of 182 registered with Gurugram police. Only 35 RSOs are active across the city, police said.
In April 2013, Diwan planned and executed a crackdown against underage driving in the city. He said a team of road safety officers and traffic police caught 35 students who were driving without licence and penalised 10 parents for the offence on the first day of the drive. Next on his agenda was to encourage car pooling. “We planned to create separate lanes on major roads to manage traffic during peak hours on weekdays. So, we dedicated one stretch along the Udyog Vihar road for carpools,” he said.
As part of the initiative, only office goers opting for carpools were allowed to use the segregated lanes, which were created in corporate hubs and industrial townships for six months in 2015. The RSOs deployed on the stretch ensured not more than three passengers with valid company IDs were accommodated in each car.
In May 2015, Fazilpur Chowk near Omaxe City Mall on Sohna Road became signal-free after a month long test run planned by Diwan. As part of many safety drives organised regularly, his team of road safety officers repaired roads with many potholes, with Sohna Road being one of them.
He was also involved in various traffic decongestion drives such as the ones at Signature Tower, Huda City Centre and Rajiv Chowk.
Top officials of Gurugram have been all praise for Diwan, saying he is an invaluable asset to the police department. “Diwan is always full of energy and dedicated towards his work. He works in close coordination with the traffic officials and has been involved in all major planning, involving traffic diversions and major drives across the city,” KK Rao, commissioner of police, Gurugram, said.