The Telegraph
Thursday , May 10 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ageing cars cripple cops
- Need a push to start

Raiganj, May 9: An aged fleet of cars at the disposal of North Dinajpur police is creating serious problems for the men in uniform in upholding law and order in the district.

The force has vehicles whose engines refuse to be gunned unless they are pushed by the riders. The district police chief has said 50 per cent of the vehicles are in such a state that they are incapable of being used in high-speed chases.

According to the information available with the motor transport section of the district police, all nine police stations in the district and the SP office have altogether 82 vehicles.

Sources said nine of them had been rendered inoperable because of unavailability of spare parts. While six jeeps are more than 50 years old, a dozen of vehicles had been purchased 40 years ago. The fleet has also 30 vehicles which are at least 30 years old.

The 50 year old cars are used at Raiganj, Hemtabad, Goalpokhar, Dalkhola police stations and the Daspara and Kanki outposts.

The officer in charge of Hemtabad police station, Avijit Dutta, said the sensitive border with Bangladesh was under his jurisdiction and there were two cars, one of them a jeep bought in the 1950s and a 20-year-old car.

“The older jeep has to be pushed to start and the engine often packs up. The vehicle sometimes stalls when we are en route to the spots and we have to get off and push it once more. The result is that we arrive late at places where we are needed,” said Dutta.

The officer-in-charge of Raiganj police station, Sanat Ghosh, said vehicles were needed for VIP duty and patrolling NH34. “We need to give a push to the oldest car to start the engine. It barely runs at a speed above 20km per hour. We often face the public’s ire for reaching troubled spots late,” he said.

Apart from the vintage cars, the force is also fraught with lack of drivers. There are only 37 drivers to ride the 73 cars with the police. The sources said the police could overcome the problem of shortage as constables were willing to drive the vehicles.

The North Dinajpur police chief, Dipankar Bhattacharya, said: “Yes, cars that are more than 50 years old and practically inoperable are used by the police. The rest of the vehicles are also not fit for patrolling, let alone chasing criminals fleeing on bikes or in faster cars. Ever since the district was formed in 1992, the force was left with old cars. We have been writing to the state police headquarters for new cars,” he said.

Asked about the violation of pollution control rules, as most of the cars were not meeting the Euro emission norms, Bhattacharya said the district police were helpless. “As matters stand now, we cannot afford the luxury of new cars.”