Saturday, November 14, 2009

Jamaluru

Bangaloreans put City Police Commissioner Shankar Bidari in the dock in a live chat, shooting questions across a broad spectrum: from too many one-ways to community policing


As part of its Jamaluru campaign to un-jam the city traffic, Bangalore Mirror set up a live chat between the Bangalore Commissioner of Police Shankar Bidari and Bangalore Mirror readers on Friday. The top cop answered a volley of questions from the citizens ranging from overspeeding to road humps. He was accompanied by Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic and Security) Praveen Sood.
THE EXCERPTS:
Vinod: Why are bus stops always near signals? Bidari: Ideally, the stops should never be near signals. However, Bangalore has grown by leaps and bounds. Many stops have come into existence for the convenience of general public. We have identified 4,000 bus stops near signals, of which 200 have been shifted. The remaining 3,800 stops are in consideration.
Malavika: Unless traffic police puts in sincere effort, traffic woes are here to last for ever. What are your plans to make our police effective? Bidari: Barring a few exceptions, traffic police are making sincere efforts. Their problems are also subject to law of physics. Four million vehicles are to be controlled by 2,000 traffic cops. Hence, it is not possible to expect a 100 per cent problem-free situation. We are working with concerned agencies like BBMP, BDA, BESCOM, BMTC and other bodies to find a solution.
Mr Big: Why trucks are being allowed inside the City? Bidari: There are restrictions for entry of trucks, except trucks carrying essential supplies.
Amitabh: Why do cops inspect documents from two-wheelers? Bidari: It is our duty to check the vehicles. However, if any policeman is misusing his power by extracting money, we will deal with such cases sternly.
Truebangalorean: Police divert traffic in case of VIP movement but why there is no such provision for ambulances?
Bidari: Every rule is relaxed for ambulances on duty. However, for VIP movement, police have prior information about the trip and make alternative arrangements. But, as you know ambulances are emergency services, we cannot plan the alternative routes in advance. But, we ensure that ambulances get their right of the way.
David: What is your action against unnecessary honking?
Bidari: There are enough guidelines. We book cases against those who create nuisance and thousands of such cases are registered every year.
ABangalorean: Why are projects like Metro and KR Circle Magic box kick started without public consensus?
Bidari: The process is not practical. However, representative bodies take the concurrence of all the author
ities concerned before the new project. Dinesh: What are the measures taken by cops to ensure better flow of traffic in arterial roads and bottlenecks?
Bidari: A number of measures have been initiated during the last two years through B-Trac project. All the measures have been notified from time to time.
Vijay: What is the legally permissible speed in the city?
Bidari: For vehicles plying on Chikballapur Road (Bengaluru International Airport Road), 80 kmph is the maximum limit, while it is 60 kmph on Outer Ring Road and 50 kmph in other areas. We have erected sufficient number of boards informing the same. However, if boards are missing in a few areas, action will be taken.
Sujay: What is the action against two-wheelers which ply on footpaths causing inconvenience to pedestrians?
Bidari:Bangalore has one of the highest two-wheeler population. For example, there are 2.5 million twowheelers plying in the city. Many of them are youngsters who are not wellinformed about the existing traffic rules. In a bid to reach the destination, many of they climb footpaths thereby endangering pedestrians. Many times, rain water clogs the road and people drive on footpaths. Footpath driving is considered as dangerous driving and we hope to solve it through better traffic education.
Dinesh: How is community policing project shaping up. Are you planning to introduce citizen for safe roads on the lines of Chennai?
Bidari:Every city has its own ethos. We are taking this in a big way in association with traffic warden association. The number of traffic wardens manning the junctions was 300 in January 2009, which is likely to reach 1,000 by next month. We hope to reach the target of having 2,500 wardens by December 2010... I think everyone should follow lane discipline which solves many of the problems. Moreover, many do not know how to park vehicles. If people stick to rules, then most of the traffic problems can be easily solved. I wish every Bangalorean realises this.
Bikerdude: Is Bangalore traffic police understaffed? If yes, what steps are you taking to solve this problem?
Bidari:Do not worry about our strength. We are duty bound and will ensure to deliver good services.
Prashanth: Is it possible to take up road widening, painting and other works in the night?
Bidari:It is mostly done during the night except for emergency works.
Snigda: Vehicles are allowed to take a right turn for Manipal hospital. Why is there no such facility even for ambulances at NIMHANS?
Bidari: As I said earlier, there are no restrictions for ambulances and fire services. Ravi: Why are a majority of traffic cops seen hiding after traffic junctions rather than standing near the junctions?
Bidari: This is a thing of the past. If you have any instance, please bring it to my notice and I will act on that.
Newborn: Why do drunken drivers get away easily while we cough up money for other offences?
Bidari: It is a wrong notion. Drunken driving is a serious offence. We book more than 30,000 cases a year and there is no escaping from drunken driving offences.
Akunera: Mr Bidari, can you prevent scissors-like crisscrossing of traffic? It is so chaotic at KR Circle.
Bidari: Motorists should not indulge in crisscrossing. Firstly, they are risking their lives. Secondly, we will take serious action.
Ramya: How can a Bangalorean like me help you to make Bangalore roads free from traffic jams?
Bidari: Please follow traffic rules and see the change.
Samita: Delhi has a toll free number to register complaints, what is the process in Bangalore? Bidari: Just dial 103 and leave the rest to us. You can also register complaints through mail.
Shafi: Drunken driving cases are booked. But, what about those who consume ganja and other contraband drugs and drive? Bidari: If found, we will deal with them according to traffic violation and anti-narcotics act.
Devi: When will we have a skywalk near Tin Factory, K R Puram? Bidari: We have enlisted a number of junctions for skywalks. The report has been sent to BBMP for action.
Dinesh: Why don’t traffic personnel wear reflective jackets at night? Is the corporate sector willing to buy the city police more jackets? Bidari: There is no support required from the corporate sector as our finances are strong enough. We have distributed necessary accessories to all the cops. If someone is not wearing, it is his fault.
Mancee: What is the action taken against those autos overloading with children?
Bidari: An auto cannot transport more than six kids. However, if we see any auto violating the rule, action will be initiated. Moreover, we request co-operation from parents to ensure kids’ safety.
Rinki: BDA and BBMP propose to make more roads signal free. But, instead of ‘signal-free’ it is turning out to be ‘signal full’?
Bidari: We do not install signals unless it is necessary. Once the pending works are done, then we can ensure signal-free roads.
Vinay: Why are cops still not using Blackberry sets?
Bidari: We require 400 more Blackberries. By January 26, every police officer will be equipped with a Blackberry thereby phasing out paper-based notice books. This move will make enforcement more user-friendly and non-discretionary. It will also help in creating a data base of traffic offenders and enhanced punishment for subsequent and habitual offenders.
Malavika: After the introduction of traffic signals on RT Nagar 100 Feet Road, the situation has become bad. Bidari: If there are no signals, then the situation would be worse.
Akk: Why don’t we have separate lanes for right and U turns?
Bidari: We will implement your suggestions subject to availability of road space.
Neha: Are flyovers and widened roads in the city capable of meeting traffic requirements for the next 20 years?
Bidari: No.
David: Why are our cops no match for international standards. We see them weak, dressed in shabby clothes and not smart. Do you advocate a make over?
Bidari: Our cops are a product and reflection of our society. However, let me assure that performance-wise we are far better than any other police force in the world.
Prashanth: Is it possible for the police to reach out to youngsters in colleges by holding seminars and workshops?
Bidari: It is already in progress. We have educated 1.5 lakh children and plan to educate another 50,000 children shortly.
Vinay: Though bumpy speed breakers have been crudely removed, mammoth speed breakers are in place in a different avatar. Can you please look into it?
Bidari: It is a serious issue. We want road humps to be re-designed as per Indian Road Congress norms by March 31, 2010.
Prabhakar: Why is parking being allowed on narrow streets where there is barely any space to move around? Bidari: In some areas, it is inevitable. However, in some places, parking space has been misused for commercial uses. The only remedy is to adhere strictly to building bye-laws.
ABangalorean: What is the biggest challenge when it comes to handling traffic?
Bidari: The topography, rapidly increasing vehicular population, limited road space and the ongoing Metro and other construction works.
Sneha: Dealing with eunuchs in traffic junction is a big headache for motorists. Are you not taking action against them out of fear?
Bidari: We are strictly dealing with eunuchs and are not afraid of them.
SRK: Mr Commissioner, what is your message for Bangaloreans?
Bidari: ‘Sugama Sanchara’ (smooth traffic movement) is vital for the wellbeing of our city. Let us all join together, abide by the traffic laws and strive to improve road conditions. We also need to work in unison to make this a happy place for us and future generations.
RS 40 CR TO UPGRADE TRAFFIC REGULATION
The state government has already granted Rs 40 crore for the following projects to be executed in next one year under Bangalore Traffic Improvement Project (B-Trac):
State-of-the-art Traffic Training and Road Safety Institute to be constructed by Karnataka State Police Housing Corporation at Thanisandra for training police officers and road users
Improvement of junctions at 50 locations Permanent Traffic Management Center (TMC)
Street furniture like cat’s eyes, median markers, information boards, gantries with direction boards, flexible medians, wheel clamps and thermo-plastic road markings Pelican lights for pedestrians Equipment for Traffic Training Institute and Automation Center, and TMC ATC system at 14 corridors and other improvements to existing signals Training of police personnel Recurring operating expenditures Parking information system Surveillance and enforcement cameras and introduction of video analytics Mirror effect: Top cop gets ‘charged up’
When City Police Commissioner Shankar M Bidari and Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Praveen Sood walked into Bangalore Mirror office on Friday afternoon for an online chat on un-jamming Bangalore, they expected a simple question-and-answer session. But it turned out to be more than that.
With Bangaloreans firing questions on traffic, an awe-struck commissioner hailed Bangalore Mirror’s traffic campaign Jamaluru stating: “I feel more charged up now.”
Speaking on the initiative, Bidari said, “I never thought so many people would be asking questions on traffic, that too in the afternoon. But I am really happy with this initiative and Bangalore Mirror has given me an opportunity to interact with people on traffic-related issues. Everyone should realise that nothing can be achieved individually. Co-operation of the public is required.”
Bidari, in fact, was quite enthused about the Q&A session. So much so, that he promised instant action on some issues highlighted by BM readers. “After this chatting session I am even more charged up and I will take action in a couple of cases and you will see immediate results,” he said.
The commissioner said, “I would also take this opportunity to say that the door of my chamber is open from the time I walk in to my office and closes only after I leave for the day. We are making sincere efforts to help the people in distress.
“This is substantiated by the fact that the number of complaints being given to the Lok Ayukta or the Chief Minister’s office has come down drastically.”

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