Team of 300 to check Delhi’s 10mn ve­hi­cles

LOPSIDED En­force­ment of­fi­cers check old, pol­lut­ing, and over­loaded ve­hi­cles — with no help from ma­chines

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - HTMETRO - Sweta Goswami sweta.goswami@hin­dus­tan­times.com

NEWDELHI: On the city’s roads will play out a bat­tle of over 10 mil­lion ve­hi­cles against the 300-odd en­force­ment of­fi­cers of the state trans­port depart­ment. Th­ese of­fi­cers, aged 50 on aver­age, are tasked with check­ing old, pol­lut­ing, and over­loaded ve­hi­cles — with no help from any de­vices.

For head con­sta­ble Ashok Kaushik, who joined the depart­ment in 1990 as sub-in­spec­tor, the drill is a no-brainer. “We do not have bar­ri­cades like the po­lice to stop ve­hi­cles. So, we use hand ges­tures. If they stop, well and good, other­wise there’s noth­ing more we can do apart from in­form­ing the near­est po­lice picket,” Kaushik said.

Kaushik, along with other mem­bers of his team, com­pris­ing an in­spec­tor, sub-in­spec­tor and two con­sta­bles, said they were sup­posed to get anti-pol­lu­tion masks and smoke-test ma­chines to mon­i­tor pol­lut­ing ve­hi­cles, last year. But, they have re­ceived none as yet.

“We catch trucks and cars based on an as­sump­tion and what we see. From Oc­to­ber 5 till Fri­day, we have fined 14,938 vis­i­bly pol­lut­ing ve­hi­cles. Most old trucks emit a lot of smoke when we ask them to press the ac­cel­er­a­tor. That’s one way we test them,” a trans­port in­spec­tor said.

Records with the trans­port depart­ment state that in three years, at least 12 field of­fi­cers have died on duty. At present, 60 teams of about five of­fi­cers each have been de­ployed across the city to ini­ti­ate ac­tion against over­loaded trucks, vis­i­bly pol­lut­ing ve­hi­cles and check­ing Pol­lu­tion Un­der Con­trol (PUC) cer­tifi­cates.

The prob­lem, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cers, is that er­rant driv­ers of­ten take them “ca­su­ally”.

“For most peo­ple, the po­lice are the only author­ity of law. Some head con­sta­bles even com- plained of hav­ing to con­vince mo­torists that they were em­pow­ered by law to take ac­tion. Af­ter mul­ti­ple in­stances of our of­fi­cers be­ing man­han­dled by mo­torists, we passed an or­der that the teams would not go to dimly lit ar­eas,” KK Dahiya, spe­cial com­mis­sioner (trans­port), said.

A staff short­age is an­other prob­lem the en­force­ment wing of the trans­port depart­ment has to deal with. The sit­u­a­tion is so grim that the of­fi­cers de­ployed in the 60 teams of­ten have to also dou­ble up as ‘ad­min of­fi­cers’. From re­ply­ing to Right to In­for­ma­tion (RTI) queries to mak­ing the trans­fer rolls, they are en­gaged in a lot of pa­per­work too, over and above their six to eight hour shifts on the city’s roads.

Un­like the traf­fic po­lice, that has over 5,500 per­son­nel, the govern­ment’s trans­port en­force­ment team is func­tion­ing with less than half its sanc­tioned strength of 810, data with the depart­ment states.

“In the en­tire depart­ment, there is just one ‘en­force­ment of­fi­cer’ of ACP rank. There are 70 chal­lan­ing of­fi­cers and about 120 head con­sta­bles, who can is­sue fines of only ₹100. The rest are those who help in stop­ping ve­hi­cles and taking doc­u­ments from the driv­ers,” a se­nior of­fi­cer said.

It is only this year that the depart­ment got 43 head con­sta­bles af­ter a 23-year wait. Even in 1995, when the last re­cruit­ments were made, only 16 con­sta­bles were hired.

“We haven’t got new uni­forms in more than five years. Since it looks like a po­lice uni­form, peo­ple take us se­ri­ously when we stop them. So it is im­por­tant,” a sub-in­spec­tor said.

An­other con­sta­ble rued that the Delhi govern­ment does not pro­vide any com­pen­sa­tion, like it does to the po­lice, fire fight­ers or sol­diers, to th­ese en­force­ment of­fi­cers de­spite them los­ing their lives to un­law­ful mo­torists.

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