A traffic constable braves the singeing sun at Sarjana Chowk in Ranchi on Thursday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
As the traffic thinned a bit, ASI B.K. Singh dashed to a nearby garment shop, hoping to get some relief from the sun that blazed down angrily.
The escape was only short-lived. He saw some people violating the signal and darted back to his “open” post at Sarjana Chowk to admonish them. Done, he headed back to his temporary shelter.
Shuttling between the sun and the shade has become a part of Singh’s daily traffic management routine at one of the busiest intersections of the state capital. Denied even the most basic sun shields like umbrellas and glucose water, Singh and 50 more traffic personnel, including ASIs, head constables and constables, have no other option but to chalk out their own survival strategies as they perform their duty on roads from 8am to 9.30pm.
“Hum log ko glucose paani bhi nahi uplabd karaya gaya. Kya karein? Chai ki dukan se paani le kar peete hain (We are not offered glucose water. We get plain water from tea stalls),” Singh complained.
He also admitted that he was not being able to perform his duty diligently in the excessive heat.
“As it is, I have a hard time disciplining traffic violators and honking vehicles. On top of that, there is just no arrangement to keep us cool in this kind of weather. God knows when the police department will provide us with umbrellas, glucose water and flasks,” he murmured.
Shailesh Kumar, who was managing traffic along with Singh, had similar gripes. The constable, who returned from election duty in Chatra on Thursday, was immediately posted at Sarjana Chowk
“Aaj laute hai aur yahan akar duty kar rahe hai. Humko dehydration ho gaya hai. (I returned today and was sent for traffic duty here. I am suffering from dehydration),” he rued.
Lady constable T. Chetry tried to protect herself from the harsh rays with bare hands near Anjuman Plaza crossing. “Local shopkeepers are our saviours. They give us water. It would have been better if the department gave us glucose drinks,” she said.
Another traffic constable Ram Singh said after returning home from work, most of them suffered from bad headache and stomach issues.
“I take medicines after going home. Sometimes I purchase lime water to quench my thirst. But it’s not possible to spend from our pockets every day,” said Ramesh Kumar, a traffic guard at Rajendra Chowk near Doranda.
Traffic SP Rajiv Ranjan held out hope that the demands would be met soon.
“We wrote to SSP Prabhat Kumar three days ago to make arrangements for 300 umbrellas, besides glucose water and flasks. Hopefully, all personnel will receive their summer gear within two days,” he said.
The traffic SP, however, complained of manpower crunch, which is forcing his juniors to put in extra hours on roads. “We are managing with just 50 constables while the remaining 250 have been taken away for election duty. We are hoping to better traffic management once they return,” he added.
The SSP said they were in the process of procuring the items sought by the traffic SP.