Those meant to manage traffic are responsible for the mess on the streets, thundered a senior minister of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government on Thursday.
“Had our police been a little serious in their approach to traffic management and cared for the citizens, the scene on the roads would have been vastly different,” alleged transport minister Subhas Chakraborty.
“The entire force cannot be blamed for the chaos. But I have no doubt that a large section of our police force does not care to perform duties seriously, as a result of which the traffic is unmanageable,” Chakraborty told Metro at Writers’ Buildings.
Regarded a rebel-in-residence in the ruling CPM, Chakraborty’s criticism of the force, especially of traffic management, is expected to trigger a controversy, as police affairs are directly overseen by Bhattacharjee himself.
On the defensive in the face of public outrage at the increasing loss of lives in road accidents in recent months, the police brass has informed the government that the cops cannot be expected to manage traffic so long as the public vehicles department, a wing of the transport ministry, does not issue road permits in a more controlled manner. In a few recent meetings with the chief minister, the police bosses have pointed out that Chakraborty cannot disown responsibility for the chaos on the roads.
“I do not want to be seen as contradicting a minister. All that I can say is there are several reasons for the chaos, such as roadblocks, hawkers, encroachments, pedestrians, rallies, constructions. Police have no power to control them,” said M.K. Singh, deputy commissioner (traffic).
Minister Chakraborty said he had told the government that the police are far better equipped now — “look at their fleet of cars, walkie-talkies and manpower”— to handle traffic within the framework of policies laid down by the transport and other departments.
“I have told the government that it is not my job to get down to the city roads, like some ministers do, and manage traffic. Police will have to take the initiative to ensure smooth vehicular movement.’’