It took a rap from the top cop to get police acting on restoring phone connections at four police stations in the crime-prone port area that had remained disconnected for more than a fortnight.
The phones had gone out of order around three weeks ago. Roads had been dug up for laying underground sewerage pipes at Garden Reach, Nadial, Metiabruz and Rajabagan as part of the Calcutta Environment Improvement Project and phone lines were damaged during the digging.
But the police allegedly did nothing about it till the bosses at Lalbazar realised the problem during a crime conference on March 30.
Pulled up by commissioner R.K. Pachnanda for making themselves inaccessible to people, the police finally got cracking.
The top cop’s rebuke prompted a team comprising officers of the port division to visit the telephone exchange to report the matter in the first week of April. The phone connections were restored within days of the visit.
Police officers of the port division blamed BSNL for the delay. “We had told the telephone service provider about the problem. They told us not much could be be done if the telephone lines had been snapped because of some other project,” said an officer of Rajabagan police station.
No senior BSNL official was willing to comment on record. “It is their job to ensure that phone lines are intact even during digging of roads. The police station is informed before the start of any project. The onus is on the cops to ensure that the basic amenities — from traffic to telephone lines — are not affected,” said an official on condition of anonymity.
A police officer scoffed at the suggestion, saying: “Our only responsibility is to ensure security of the people involved in the project, not the phone lines.”
A senior officer at Lalbazar said the snapped phone lines had cut off the cops from residents and crucial local intelligence.
“How will a resident alert the police about a crisis if the phones do not work? Not everyone knows the OC’s mobile number,” he said. “The reaction time to an incident can be reduced only if the police are connected with people and get the information on time.”