The city police on Wednesday carried out the first phase of a drive against jaywalkers by picking up over a dozen pedestrians in the Park Street-Mullickbazar area. The morning rush hour found the cops putting up ropes along pavements near the busy Park Street-Mullickbazar intersection, the Esplanade four-point junction, Dufferin Road and Gariahat to prevent people from spilling on to the streets.
“We found pedestrians most unruly at the Park Street-Mullickbazar crossing,” said deputy commissioner (traffic) M.K. Singh. “We arrested 12 of them and released them after they paid a fine of Rs 50 each.”
Police commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty on Wednesday also directed his officers to identify spots where “urchins and refugees” live on pavements and clear them for pedestrians “immediately”. Chakraborty said the pedestrians along Gariahat Road at Ballygunge Phari are forced to take to the streets as the pavements are overrun by the homeless. “Officers have been asked to identify those spots and launch an eviction drive.’’
Metro, on Wednesday, spotted squatter families on the footpaths of New Park Street near Park Circus, Kyd Street and Gariahat, to name just a few.
The police chief said he would review the drive against jaywalkers and prepare an “action-taken report” on clearing the pavements every week.
Chakraborty lamented that the current law against jaywalkers “does not have enough teeth” to deter them from sneaking through high-speed traffic on busy roads. “I have proposed that the government permit traffic police to impose spot fines on violators,’’ he added.
Deputy commissioner M.K. Singh held a meeting with his officers in his Lalbazar office on Wednesday to chalk out a “planned drive” to prevent jaywalking. “Initially we have decided to focus on a few areas like Gariahat, the GPO, Dalhousie and Esplanade, where policemen will stand with ropes to prevent people from spilling over on the street, while simultaneously creating an awareness among pedestrians to use the zebra crossings,’’ said Singh.
When asked why the jaywalking drive would be restricted to a few zones only, Singh said his department did not have the manpower or the resources to extend it throughout the city. “We will have to carry it out in a phased manner. We will inculcate a sense of discipline among pedestrians on some thoroughfares. The message will go out to the rest,’’ said Singh.