Cycle-rickshaws may soon be part of the city’s past, jaywalkers will be pulled firmly back on the pavements and reckless drivers made to pay for speeding along the roads.
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Monday took stock of the chaotic traffic on the city roads and decided to lay down a few rules himself. Those present at the meeting, convened by Bhattacharjee himself to express his dissatisfaction with the state of traffic, were police commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty, special additional police commissioner Sandhi Mukherjee and deputy commissioner (traffic) M.K. Singh. Home secretary Amit Kiran Deb was also present.
Bhattacharjee was particularly unhappy at the way buses stopped in the middle of the road to pick up passengers and then speeded to stay ahead of each other. Jaywalkers, too, were a cause for concern, he said, suggesting they should be fined for breaking traffic rules.
The chief minister also took exception to auto-rickshaws being parked on thoroughfares and hawkers who have “suddenly sprouted” on important intersections. He urged the city police bosses to intensify the chaos curb. Bhattacharjee pointed out that cycle-rickshaws, banned within city limits, defy the order and ferry passengers right under the nose of the police.
He agreed to a police proposal of doubling the amount of fine slapped for speeding and rash driving and ploughing a portion of the money collected thus, into traffic management.
Earlier, transport minister Subhas Chakraborty had squarely blamed the police for the traffic mess.
According to a senior officer present at the meeting, Bhattacharjee singled out jaywalking as a major cause for chaos on city streets. He said the police must prevent people from crossing busy roads in the middle of high traffic. “I am extremely edgy while making the daily journey from home to office and back, and fear that somebody will suddenly rush in front of my vehicle from somewhere,” he told the cops.
Reminding the police that there is a provision to fine jaywalkers, Bhattacharjee directed the commissioner to ensure that policemen on the streets take the initiative to book violators. According to Calcutta Police rules, a person caught for jaywalking can be fined Rs 50.
The police have identified areas like Park Street, Theatre Road, Moulali, MG Road, BBD Bag, Mayo Road, Dufferin Road, Lenin Sarani and SN Banerjee Road where railings and road dividers would be constructed in phases to prevent jaywalking.