BENGALURU: The city’s overflowing garbage problem is creating a stink in the Traffic Police department. Police traffic islands (chowkis), usually meant for policemen to sit in and monitor traffic, have slowly become waste dumps or storage spaces for brooms and cleaning equipment, and in some areas, are even used as urinals by the public. This is forcing the police constables to vacate the space and hunt for alternative spots.
Across the city, the ubiquitous police chowkis line the streets and are located at the middle of, or at the side of busy junctions. “Several motorists stop at the chowkis at night and use them as toilets. With not many public toilets open, these chowkis provide some privacy. The next morning, when we show up to work, you can tell by the stink that it has been used as a urinal. How can we then stand there and work?”
questioned a traffic constable near the Bengaluru East station.
When City Express visited a few of these police chowkis, some of the items discovered were heaps of plastic covers, garbage, garden waste and even cleaning equipment. With the police not willing to man these chowkis, they have been turned into storage bins for pourakarmikas.
“In some places, they use these stands as their storerooms and you can find brooms, buckets and other equipment used to clean the streets, stored inside,” complained another constable. “Our chowkis have become multi-purpose spaces, and they help everyone but us. We have to hunt for cover from the sun or rain and stand at the side of the road,” he rued.
Chowkis to go hi-tech soon: BBMP
The BBMP is now planning to turn these chowkis hi-tech. “The BBMP Council has approved to call a tender for hi-tech traffic police chowkis under public-private partnership. Since the BBMP advertisement policy allows advertisements under the PPP model at certain places, advertisements are allowed with social messages at these chowkis.
We have sent the approved design to the state government, which has to give the final approval. We will call for tenders after,” Manjunath Prasad, BBMP commissioner, said. These chowkis will be installed at 400 locations. “Chowkis will have CCTV cameras outside, thick glass panels for protection from pollution, drinking water facilities, solar-panelled roofs,” the commissioner said.
Our duty to keep chowkis clean: BBMP Commissioner
Another problem with these shelters is an inadvertent result of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) drive to rid the city of advertisements. While earlier, these chowkis would sport a roof shaped like an umbrella, providing much-needed shelter from the sun and rain, now, the panels on the roof have been taken off, leaving the shelter exposed to the elements. BBMP commissioner Manjunath Prasad said that keeping these chowkis in a clean condition is the BBMP’s responsibility. “I will direct the zonal commissioners to keep all these chowkis clean. The pourakarmikas will be asked to clean them as well,” he said.