In Focus

Despite Moves to Prevent Crowding, Colaba Police, Traffic Personnel Choose to Defy

By A Draft Colaba Correspondent

In order to limit vehicular traffic on Mumbai roads and to allow vehicles related to essential services with more ease, the Mumbai Police has decided to implement a colour code in the city amid Covid-19 restrictions. This was implemented from 18 April 2021.

IGNORANT: Colaba police personnel at a nakabandi at Sassoon Docks (Representational image)

A Red sticker will be used for vehicles belonging to doctors, medical staff, and transportation of essential medical supplies; Green for vehicles carrying consumable items (fruits, vegetables, dairy products etc) and Yellow for essential services including the movement of officials from the government, telephone department, electricity department and the media.

While the stickers are to be provided free of charge by the Mumbai Police and will be used to navigate traffic conditions and the stickers, which should be six-inch circles, are said to be made available at 'nakabandi' points and toll nakas for free, there appears to be a lot of confusion within police circles. The move to apply appropriate stickers on passing vehicles has been initiated by the police commissioner to eliminate traffic snarls at Nakabandis and prevent crowding that defeats the purpose of the entire exercise in COVID times.

STREAMLINING THE SITUATION: Mumbai Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale says Essential Service providers can put colour-coded stickers on vehicles to facilitate easy movement at nakabandis

Maharashtra remains one of the worst affected states hit by the pandemic. Maharashtra, on Sunday, 18 April 2021, reported the highest spike of 68,631 fresh coronavirus positive cases while 503 patients succumbed to the infection, the state health department said. Of the 503 fatalities, 210 deaths had occurred in the last 48 hours. With this, the cumulative caseload in the state mounted to 38,39,338 while the death toll reached 60,473. Maharashtra is now left with 6,70,388 active cases.

The Draft Take

On visiting a regular nakabandi spot at Sassoon Docks, Colaba on 18 April 2021 to inquire about the Yellow stickers for the Media said to be "provided for free" at nakabandis, the police personnel present were blissfully oblivious of the notice issued by the Mumbai Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale. On being asked about the issue of crowding of the police personnel available even while stopping vehicles that occurs as a rule at the spot owing to the inept handling at the nakabandi, the personnel got defiant and intimidatory in their approach and insisted that "nobody had the authority to ask them any questions," and anyone having an issue would be "led to the Colaba Police Station" in a jeep parked nearby.

These attitudinal issues within the police personnel, almost in defiance of the Mumbai Police Commissioner Nagrale's attempts to streamline situation on the road, defeat the very purpose of the exercise. A senior police personnel, on his part, even "offered to provide a yellow sticker" to our Correspondent and for free, "but only after noting down details of the vehicle that needed to ply on the roads." 

The Colaba Police Station's Senior Inspector Kusum Waghmare in tandem with Colaba Traffic Division's Police Inspector Mubarak Shaikh, when contacted by The Draft Colaba, reiterated that vehicle owners can stick appropriately-coloured stickers, even by themselves, to their vehicles depending on their essential service and that others (without stickers) will not be permitted to ply on the roads. On the issue of the personnel at nakabandis misbehaving with members of the public, they both maintained that "it was wrong" and they would "instruct them to behave with decorum with the public."

By law now, it's only when the police apprehend a vehicle sporting a sticker wrongly and fraudulently that the vehicle owner will be booked for cheating. It's these flip-flop versions offered by a few obtuse personnel at Ground Zero, in flagrant violation of the orders of the Mumbai Police Commissioner and their seniors that only compound the COVID situation that risks going completely out of hand in Colaba.

Members of the public facing genuine issues may tweet to @TheDraftColaba using the hashtag #StopCOVIDNotVehicles to enable us highlight their woes before relevant authorities