Anyone driving around Haryana would know that it is a nightmare experience. The traffic situation is very bad and is further compounded by the fact the roads are in an extremely bad condition, especially in the aftermath of monsoons.
The traffic is poorly managed. This gives rise to frequent accidents and injuries to all those who are not careful in their driving and don't follow traffic rules.
So why is this situation prevailing in Haryana? Why is the traffic so poorly managed? Why do the traffic police look so disinterested, except when they tend to stop people for traffic violations? What is the government doing to fight corruption in the department?
The state government is responsible for this mess. Ever since it took office, there has been little expansion in the traffic police in proportion to the exponential growth in vehicles that make an entry each year.
The hapless policemen
There is a major shortage of staff, especially in the traffic department. Unfortunately, very few people are keen to enter service in this department and those who do, are usually poorly trained and poorly motivated to carry on what is perceived to be a thankless job. The only motivation seems to come from the possibility of making some money on the side.
The long hours of work and lack of any facilities, result in new recruits viewing this department as a last resort. The staff has to stand out in the open heat, when the temperature is unbearable and they still try their best to carry on their work.
What is saddening is that they tend to get the worst from all ends. The department provides very little by way of support or facilities, while on the other hand they have to face daily threats and abuse, at the hands of people, who take breaking rules for granted. When they happen to be stopped and challenged by a traffic policeman, they turn their rage on him by abusing him and sometimes getting violent.
Everyone knows someone in a position of influence or power and these people get called up to intervene. Very often the traffic policeman has to back down due to pressure from the top and has to actually apologise to the culprit. This only results in further demoralising the policeman, besides undergoing humiliation.
Why is the law being broken every day and what is the Hooda administration doing about it?
Travel to any city, town or village and road discipline is totally absent. While the laws are all there, the enforcement is negligible and this is due to severe manpower shortage in the force. The state administration has completely failed to keep pace with the explosive growth in vehicles.
The traffic is undisciplined because they are allowed to be so. There is very little enforcement of the law against red light jumping, lane changing, over speeding, drunken driving, speaking on cell phone while driving, driving without lights, driving without seat belts or helmets, the list is a long one, but with little or no enforcement.
The laws are all there and because there is no enforcement, the people take the law for granted. The blame for this lies squarely with the department, as also, with the state government.
The traffic department needs to be overhauled badly with additional manpower, better equipment, improved training and better facilities to the staff. However, there is huge scope for improvement even with the existing strength.
Let's take a look at some statistics on traffic challans, as per the Traffic Police Department of Haryana.
In the year 2012, the total number of challans cut was 14.21 lakh and the amount collected was Rs 39.14 crore. However, one year later in 2013 the total number of challans cut was 13.20 lakh, a drop of one lakh! Now, how does the number of challans drop in one year when every year there are more number of vehicles hitting the roads?
It's interesting that despite the drop in number of challans in one year by over a lakh, the total collections have actually gone up by Rs. 3.41 crore or 10%!
It gets even more interesting. If the state government wants and if there is a will, there is a lot of scope for improvement even with existing resources. To prove the point, let's take a look at the figures for 2010.
In that year there were 2.41 lakh challans cut. Now in one year alone i.e. in 2011, the number of challans cut was 10.50 lakh! That is almost 4 times the previous year! Now, how did this happen? Was it that the number of vehicles increased by 4 times in one year or is it that the traffic police got hyperactive in 2011?
Now take a look at the collections for the same period. In 2010, the total collections was Rs. 6.36 crore, whereas in 2011 the collection was Rs 29.12 crore! A whopping 5 time increase!
So, if in one year the traffic police could make such a dramatic turnaround in collection, then why was it not possible to challan a higher number of people in 2013, when it dropped by 1 lakh from the previous year? This only shows the inefficiencies in the traffic police department that is overworked, overburdened, and one which is functioning on very low motivation. The story is the same through the 10 years of the Hooda administration.
Can the Chief Minister explain what happened to the Rs. 42.56 crore collected in 2013? Where did it go? Why it was not used to expand the traffic police force? Why was there no investment in modernising the traffic police? Was any money invested towards the welfare of the traffic police? The people need answers Mr. Chief Minister, as they are the ones who have to wait endlessly through traffic jams as they are not as privileged as you are, who sails through clear roads with your red beacon light on.
Every year people lose their lives on road accidents and those that are injured are left to the mercy of the passerby as there is no traffic police in sight. And even when they do come, albeit belatedly, getting the injured through the chaotic traffic to a hospital on time, is a mission impossible.
Lack of safety signage
There is very little by way of road safety signages that warn drivers of road bends, entry/exit points, speed breakers, etc. These are so vital for the safety of those on roads but this again seems to be low on priority of the ruling government. There are very few red lights at crossings and where installed, many are not functional. Road markings, zebra crossings and reflective signage, are mostly non-existent in Haryana. Thanks to state government that has barely made any investment is improving the road safety.
Mr. Chief Minister, how long will you rule at the cost of people's safety? What should have been a top priority of any government that cares, seems to be a low priority one with you. The common man has given up expecting any kind of a better and safer life under your rule. He now awaits his turn under a Naya Haryana.