‘Chowk paalaks’ to serve as guardians against traffic congestion; cops welcome help, say permission needed
There’s a new set of activists attempting to invigilate the city’s increasingly chaotic roads, and they’ve already put forth a few suggestions in recent times to direct the authorities to manage traffic better.
Days after recommending that school timings across town, especially in the old city, need to be altered to avoid vehicular congestion, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) Pune wing is now trying its hands at a different tactic. Under the plan its members have prepared to control the city’s traffic issues, several ‘swayamsevaks’ are now going to be working in 120 areas as traffic wardens, denoting each one as a ‘chowk paalak’.
A month ago, the RSS local unit invited applications for volunteers to take part in its new traffic project, and had received a substantial response, with many aspirants noting that this was an area hitherto unexplored by the Hindu nationalist organisation.
Of the lot, a total of 120 people were chosen, focusing on those who were able to stay available almost throughout the day and could therefore dedicate enough time in serving in their new role.
The term chowk paalak for each traffic warden is meant to denote that the volunteer would be “like a parent for a particular intersection or road”, said RSS sources, adding that through this initiative, more members of the public could get involved and take their role seriously, invigilating the traffic scenario like a proper guardian in an effort to improve it.
Speaking to Mirror, Mahesh Pohnerkar, Road Safety Mission coordinator for RSS, said, “The idea is to have our organisation contribute to resolving traffic jams across the city. A couple of hundred people applied for the same and we selected 120 to serve the role of chowk paalaks, keeping an eye on the road to spot irregularities or disruptions in traffic.”
He added, “There is a meeting slated next week and the initiative begins two weeks from now. We are going to work closely with the traffic department for the same. Volunteers will share their inputs regarding the vehicular congestion, malfunctioning of traffic lights and more, and also help set these things right.”
Appreciating the move, deputy commissioner of police (DCP-traffic) Pankaj Deshmukh said, “In August, swayamsevaks conducted a traffic awareness drive on a pilot basis, wherein they tried to direct traffic — the whole initiative worked well. We usually allow people to work with us, and RSS will also have to communicate this application formally by writing a letter and taking a no objection certificate from us.”
Chowk paalaks will be assigned duty within major areas including Swaragte, Karve Road, Satara Road, Viman Nagar, Regional Transport Office and more.
Formal training on traffic rules and direction will also be given chowk paalaks before they start the job, scheduled to take off in a fortnight or so.