As monsoon comes, traffic cops prepare for big jams

Police say they have identified stretches which are vulnerable to waterlogging in the capital

With its traffic signals supposedly serviced and “enough personnel” on the roads to ensure smooth traffic flow, Delhi Police claims it is geared up to face the monsoon challenge.

The department has even identified vulnerable waterlogging stretches in the capital and given a list to the civic agencies. “We are in touch with the municipal corporations, Public Works Department, New Delhi Municipal Council and other civic agencies to ensure that issues like waterlogging due to rains are resolved at the earliest. We have informed them about vulnerable spots in the capital where waterlogging is an issue. Traffic plans mainly look at decongesting choke points,” says Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Anil Shukla.

The traffic department has also sent letters to the civic agencies seeking status reports on desilting.

Senior police officers hint that the civic agencies are working behind schedule and they need to pull up their socks to avoid problems like those faced by commuters in Mumbai recently.

Shukla says, on their part, they have serviced most of the traffic signals to ensure they don’t black out when it rains.

 Police claim the most traffic signals have been ‘monsoon-proof’ for the past couple of years and don’t get switched off even during heavy rains. “But if the civic agencies do not take care of basic infrastructure, we will be helpless,” Shukla adds.

But commuters complain that traffic signals were not functioning even during light rains in the past week, causing snarls.

“Many of them went on the blink soon after rain, causing traffic chaos. I believe it is due to poor maintenance and outdated systems,” says Nayan Chauhan, who works with a private bank in Connaught Place.

Police also admit that some of the traffic signals are outdated and when water seeps into the cable system or there is a electricity failure, it takes time for repairs.

There are also no inverters or power back-up.  “The electricians have to wait for the water to drain out as there is the danger of electrocution,” says a traffic constable, adding that the life of a traffic signal is seven to eight years, but they are repaired and used for over 15 years.

When asked about the traffic jams, Shukla says: “Even in case there is a traffic snarl due to rains, we will ensure that there are adequate traffic policemen to man the situation and ensure smooth traffic movement in the rain-hit areas.” Muktesh Chander, Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic), claims they are often the fastest to respond to rain-related incidents such as fallen trees, and have quick reaction vehicles ready to tackle them.

“Apart from waterlogging, fallen trees are one of the main reasons behind traffic jams during heavy rains. We often find that despite repeated requests, the civic agencies do not respond on time due to which we are forced to use our vehicles with makeshift tools to clear blocked roads,” he says.

Police also run a smartphone application to provide traffic-related information. “Through the mobile app, commuters can get instant traffic updates, report defunct traffic signals and fetch all related information. We advise commuters to leave early or avail Metro services to reach their destination on time,” says Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat.

The traffic police have identified 160 areas which are prone to waterlogging, accident-prone zones and other trouble spots. They were identified on noting problem areas and complaints received during the last monsoon season.

“We prepared a map and it was shared with the civic agencies to increase the number of water pumps and other measures to deal with the problem,” Bhagat adds.

A task force was also formed by Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung last year to monitor preparations for the monsoon season. It consisted of nodal officers from all civic agencies with Shukla as the chief.

“Last year, the team had met fortnightly to monitor and supervise progress of the work done on roads,” Bhagat says. He adds that as a part of their plan, the traffic police had suggested several decongestion plans for areas near Akshardham Temple, Kashmere Gate ISBT, ITO, Jhandewalan, Minto Road, Wazirpur, Jahangirpuri, Shahdara, Laxmi Nagar, Defence Colony, Sarita Vihar and other areas.

A traffic constable near Jhandewalan Metro station says they plan according to traffic movement on days with heavy rain, and even call for temporary diversion of vehicles.

“It is normally done on a two-kilometre radius. If there is a traffic jam near Hanuman Mandir, we divert vehicles from Ridge Road, Mandir Marg, Rani Jhansi Road and Karol Bagh. Traffic police of a zone are involved in the process and it helps control the situation from getting out of control,” the constable says.  Each traffic police zone also keep cranes ready to remove broken down vehicles and fallen trees.

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