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High speeds, needless stops and delays, and the conflict of drivers who enter a junction over those who are trying to exit have created problems. The situation is even worse at junctions under the flyovers, says a report of the HPC appointed by the home ministry
It is seen that Mumbai has a severe shortage of manpower to be able to manage the junctions and regulate traffic flow, according to a report of the High Powered Committee (HPC) appointed by the home ministry. The total sanctioned personnel for Mumbai Traffic Control Branch (TCB) is 3,495. There are 296 vacant positions as of 31 January 2013. Of the 3,199 positions, 74% are in day and night shifts at junctions and patrolling or on other duties like crane duty. On an average during the day shift there is one traffic policeman for 1,938 vehicles and during the night shift there is one traffic policeman for 13,365 vehicles. Existing personnel are overburdened to handle extreme stressful situations at traffic junctions in addition to responding other important traffic related issues including VVIP movement, festivals, events, rallies, etc. There are several instances of traffic police even being assaulted by undisciplined commuters while trying to enforce traffic rules.
Alarmingly, 41 cases of assault on traffic police have been reported in 2012. The sheer volume of traffic makes it difficult to enforce traffic rules and discipline without assistance of enforcement technology. The traffic constable also lacks authority on the ground to issue a challan and to levy fine on the spot. There is a wide gap between existing resources and expected tasks of traffic police.
A Public Interest Litigation PIL-18/2010 was filed in the Bombay High Court by the Bombay Bar Association on 29 January 2010. This PIL primarily addresses various issues of traffic management in the city of Mumbai. The petition is regarding improper regulation of traffic, several issues related to traffic operations, technology, enforcement, manpower, road markings, etc. In 17 hearings held by the HC, several issues related to enforcement and infrastructure was raised. This article covers aspects of traffic junctions and signals from the HPC report of the home ministry.
According to the HPC report, there are about 1,238 main traffic junctions in the city. 646 of these junctions are signalised (Source: MCGM). The process of signalising more junctions is on-going. About 253 signals are under Area Traffic Control system, a project initiated through World Bank funding. This has resulted in some reduction in delay and increase in speed and to some extent has induced changes in driver behaviour for smooth movement of traffic. However, with increasing vehicles on the roads, junctions have become bottlenecks for traffic movement. At some of the junctions at least two to five traffic policemen are needed to direct and move the traffic. There is a severe shortage of manpower. Existing manpower is overburdened to handle traffic at critical junctions in addition to addressing several other traffic related issues. High speeds, needless stops and delays, and the conflict of drivers who enter a junction over those who are trying to exit have created problems. The situation is even worse at junctions under the flyovers. There is a need for good geometric designs to guide the vehicles and pedestrians crossing junctions. Sometimes, vehicles parked close to junction’s further impact the flow of traffic.
Equipment for Enforcement: Traffic enforcement is the most recognizable and universal traffic police function. To maintain and regulate smooth flow of traffic, certain equipment is necessarily required by traffic police, opines the HPC report. Basic equipment needed immediately is traffic cones, reflective jackets, steel barricades, alcohol detectors, cranes, digital cameras, helmets with communication sets and PA systems. Lack of adequate and proper equipment coupled with limited manpower is impacting traffic flow. Lack of equipment and resources has made the job of traffic police to predict and pre-empt bottlenecks caused by breakdowns, undesirable parking and impaired driving even more difficult, leading to extreme situations at times putting their lives at risk. In spite of all these issues, traffic police detected over 16,000 cases of drunk driving in 2011 and 14133 cases in 2012. Fatal accidents have reduced from 609 in 2010 to 539 in the year 2011 to 471 in the year 2012 (Source: Mumbai Traffic Police).
Design Improvement of Junctions: Junction improvements result in road
safety, reduced congestion, and improved facilities for pedestrians and bus passengers, and improved look and feel of the area. This will also help the traffic police as less manpower will be needed to monitor the junctions, points out the HPC Report. Continuous width for carriageway and footpath needs to be provided. Geometric design features such as bulb outs (curb angled narrowing of the roadway and widening of sidewalk to facilitate pedestrians/passengers), bollards (a short vertical post), refuge islands (small section of pavement completely surrounded by roads where pedestrian can stop before finishing crossing the road); tight curb radii (to avoid pedestrian crash with left turning vehicles at intersections) and textured crosswalks (an aesthetic treatment used to make a crosswalk surface more visually attractive), pedestrian crossings, etc. need to be used for junction improvements. Re-alignment of carriageways, if necessary, needs to be considered to improve sight distance and smooth flow of traffic.
Action proposed: MCGM will adopt the policy to re-design the existing junctions which shall comply with the recommendations and make the junctions pedestrian-friendly. This was to be achieved in a time frame of three years by MCGM, MMRDA and Mumbai Traffic Police
Signalisation of all Junctions: All junctions need to be signalised for efficient handling of the traffic, suggests the HPC Report. Additionally, signals need to be synchronized with different signal timing plans for different time periods. Tuning the traffic signals to the time and direction of traffic flows is particularly effective if the signals can be adjusted for every time period to reflect changes in commuting patterns. Expansion of Area Traffic Control System needs to be initiated to other signalized intersections throughout the city.
Action proposed: There are 646 signalised junctions in Greater Mumbai. MCGM has covered 253 junctions under Area Traffic Control project with assistance from World Bank fund. The remaining 393 junctions are proposed to be covered under ATC project in next four years through Government of Maharashtra and MCGM funds. As regards signalization of all the junctions phase wise programme will be taken up in consultation with Traffic Police Department, as the work of installation of new signals is carried out by MCGM as per the recommendations and priority of Mumbai Traffic Police. This is to be achieved in a time frame of two years by MCGM and Mumbai Traffic Police.
Here is an imaginary dialogue between a confused CA—Arjuna and Lord Krishna—which makes for an interesting reading, more particularly in these days, when questions are raised on the integrity of the members of the once an extremely honourable accountancy profession
The editors of The Bombay Chartered Accountant Journal ought to be complimented for publishing a very timely spoof “Ethics and U” in the April 2013 issue. This is an imaginary Q&A dialogue between a confused CA—Arjuna and Lord Krishna— a brilliant attempt at demystifying what really constitutes “bringing disrepute to the profession” as enunciated in the provisions of Clauses 1 and 2 of Part IV of the First Schedule and Part III of the Second Schedule to the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949.
The dialogue makes for an interesting reading, more particularly in these days, when questions are raised on the integrity of the members of the once an extremely honourable accountancy profession.
The auditing and accounting profession is under the scanner for misdemenours and transgressions abroad in the audits of BCCI, Tyson, Palmart and Enron also here in India—the Global Trust Bank and Satyam, considered the biggest financial frauds to date. Recently there have been reports of negligence in Wipro, SBI, Sesa Goa, Reliance InfoTech and Reebook.
Quote and Unquote, suitably modified, appropriate questions and answers:
What to do? There is no alternative. I don’t do it myself. That is why my cases remain pending.
There are cases of even CAs demanding dowries.
Does the public really respect you? Three CAs formed a company for some business, it did not pick up, and so they neglected compliances totally. The company was transferred to someone… the buyer filed a complaint. Such negligence brings disrespect to the profession. They were held guilty, though left on reprimand.
Many thanks to the author CA Mr Vaze, chairman and the Journal Committee of BCAJ for this enlightening dialogue.
(Nagesh Kini is a Mumbai-based chartered accountant turned activist).