Short-staffed, overworked: How cops keep Maharashtra’s accident-prone highways safe
Just 1,396 police officials to man a 7,474-km stretch — that’s how understaffed the highway safety patrol (HSP) department, which cracks down on errant motorists on the state and national highways, is.
A recent right to information (RTI) query revealed that the department is working with just 59% of its full strength.
Of the 39,878 road accidents — including accidents causing fatal, serious, minor and no injuries — that were recorded in 2016, as many as 10,364 took place on national highways. About 9,052 took place on state highways. The rest took place on other roads in the city and other districts.
Data reveals that as many as 959 of the HSP’s 2,355 posts are vacant. A majority of the vacancies are for police sub-inspectors and constables, who work on the ground level, register cases and handle paperwork.
As many as 110 of 139 posts for sub-inspectors are vacant. Of 1,203 posts for constables, about 876 are vacant. As many as 180 of 208 posts for constables who work as drivers are vacant.
“Owing to the staff crunch, we have to work 12 hours a day. We hope to get more manpower soon,” said an official.
“We are trying to nab more speeding drivers and those who cut lanes. We have given suggestions to the public works department and the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation, which are concerned with the engineering aspect of road safety. They will help us curb accidents at blackspots. We are trying to ensure that injured people are rushed to the hospital within an hour of the accident,” said Vijay Patil, deputy commissioner of police, HSP.