The Times of India (Chandigarh), Page 1
Over speeding and driving under the influence of liquor are two traffic offences that seem to figure low on the priority of Punjab Police. This, when the latest report of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) released in July shows that the number of fatal accidents in Punjab has seen a 22% jump in 2014 as compared to the previous year.In the most accident-prone cities of the state -Amritsar and Ludhiana --the rise was 23% and 71% respectively . But despite the state's worsening road accident record, cops have only seven speed guns to check 40 lakh vehicles running on the 68,879-km road network and 125 operational alcometers to detect drunk drivers. This is part of the report on `Traffic Management in Punjab' submitted to the Punjab and Haryana high court on Friday by Punjab's traffic adviser Navdeep Asija, and brings out how ill-equipped Punjab cops are on these two crucial counts. "The available speed guns and alcometers can cover only 25% of Punjab. It means that under the present law, it is difficult to convict anyone driving after drinking or over speeding in 75% of the state," the report points out. Punjab traffic adviser Navdeep Asija's report says, "In the year 2014, state traffic police issued 9,88,958 traffic challans, which comes to around 2,700 challans per day. It was found that out of total only 5,688 challans were for drunken driving and over speeding, which is 0.6% of the total traffic violations. This means that not even 1 vehicle per district was challaned under these two offences."
The scenario becomes more alarming when collated with Ministry of Road Surface and Transport Report `Road Accidents In India 2013' in Punjab,which shows that out of total `4588' road crash fatalities reported, 1711 (37%) of the total were due to drunken driving and over speeding. In view of the financial health condition of traffic police wing of Punjab Police, the report made a case for release of 50% of the compoundable challan fee (Rs 17.4 crore) deposited with state by traffic wing of Punjab Police during the years 2013, 2014 and till June 2015, as per their inter departmental letter dated July 18, 2012. Besides this, there is need for Punjab Police to make online Punjab Road Safety Database management system fully operational (http:www.punjabroadsafety .org) to overcome the quality data issues related to the traffic and its management.
Punjab is a tippler's paradise with aver age consumption of liquor estimated at 11.5 bottles per capita. 34.9% of the population consumes liquor in Punjab compared to 20.2% in neighbouring Haryana. This was highlighted in a recent survey conducted by International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai File photo