Monday, October 19, 2009

Greasing the greedy palms

reasing the greedy palms

Caught in crawling traffic? Don’t holler at the motorist in front — the real villain of the piece is the corrupt traffic cop who (undoubtedly in cahoots with his seniors) bends the rules to make some easy money. A classic example of such murky goings-on is the Nayandahalli junction, which links the busy Mysore Road with the Banashankari Outer Ring Road and the Vijayanagar-City Market area. This is one of the most sought-after junctions by traffic constables — and one is not talking here about devotion to duty! It could be easily among the most polluted junctions in the city, but traffic policemen fall over each other to do duty here because of the moolah they can earn from truck drivers — not less than Rs 2,500 in a day.
The rule book is unambiguous: no trucks are allowed on this stretch between 9 and 11 in the morning and between 5 and 7 in the evening. The idea behind the ban is that these road hogs don’t create a gridlock during peak hours when everybody is either rushing to their office or business meeting. The space that a truck occupies can actually accommodate two dozen motorcycles and two cars, or a bus carrying 50 passengers.
Accordingly, trucks coming from Mysore Road have to stop at this junction and take the Outer Ring Road leading to Banashankari during peak hours. To enter the city, especially the K R Market area, the truck drivers have to halt at a nearby parking lot and wait for the non-peak hours to commence. But the truckers’ impatience and traffic cops’ greed combine to make a mockery of the rule. The truck drivers grease the traffic constables’ palms and gain entry to the congested roads between Nayandanahalli and the Sirsi Circle-Town Hall flyover.
The domino effect is hardly surprising. These trucks not only cause traffic jams and pollution, they reduce the speed of other vehicles and cause further pollution and wastage of fuel.
We did a recce of the junction at 10 am on Thursday and found that a constable posted there was allowing trucks to enter the city after the drivers flashed a small piece of paper at him. Those who did not show the paper were denied entry and asked to take the Outer Ring Road. When we caught up with a driver who had been allowed to go towards Deepanjalinagar junction, he said, “Our owners have formed a cartel and pay the cops and politicians collectively. We are asked to show the slip to the cops at the junction and they let us pass through.” Those without the slip have to either pay Rs 50 to the cop or park their vehicles in the temporary terminal on the Ring Road and wait for the non-peak hours to start.
On Friday morning, we bided our time at the spot between 9 am and 11 am (peak hours) and captured on camera a traffic constable (identified as Srinivas Murthy) making his day’s moolah from the truck drivers. ‘Our’ constable allowed five trucks to enter the city, all in a span of just 25 minutes.
When we brought this to the notice of ACP (traffic-west) Chandrashekar, his response was: “We concentrate (on the ban) during peak hours, 9 to 11 in the morning and 5 to 7 in the evening. We do not allow heavy vehicles and an official notification has been issued to this effect. Sometimes, the truck drivers push through despite the presence of cops. We will implement the ban strictly henceforth.” No prizes for guessing whether that’s going to happen anytime soon!


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