It’s that time of the year when people who are otherwise stuck with mundane schedules do not be bogged down by rules and regulations. Precisely because of this, the long festival season from Christmas to New Year is when there is a spike in the number of accidents, deaths, and harassments in every big city. This makes the job of law and order personnel that more difficult as many spots in cities become destinations for unruly behaviour that could endanger lives.
In several south Indian cities in the last three years, the death toll on New Year’s eve has been a minimum of four. However, Kochi is an exception to this general pattern.
Deputy Commissioner (Traffic) of Kochi Harisankar claimed that police maintain strict vigil all over Kerala throughout the year to ensure that people do not violate traffic rules.
“New year day is no exception for Kochi city police. We keep a watch on all days for offenders. Getting a driving license in Kerala itself is difficult. People go to cities outside and get a license. So while the accidents rates are low, we are keeping a special watch on Fort Kochi area as there will be a Carnival going on,” he said.
In Bengaluru however, considered to be India’s pub capital, the death toll has fluctuated year after year.
According to MA Saleem, ACP (traffic), Bengaluru said that the few hours between December 31 and January 1 have always been crucial. By January 1, 2015 8 am, Bengaluru alone had 6 deaths because of rash driving and drunken driving related issues.
“There was a mix of major and minor accidents as well. In 2014 there was just one death and in 2013 there were nine deaths. We are still trying to figure out what we are doing right and where we are going wrong,” Saleem said.
This year, Bengaluru city police have announced that even the first offense on New Year’s eve would result in immediate cancelation of license. “Police personnel would be deployed on the peripheral roads, central business district areas, Kanakapura road, Nice Road, Indira Nagar and Tumkur road etc, as those are the most vulnerable areas. We are focusing on catching ganja sellers as they are known to come out at this time,” he said.
Chennai, which is known for huge inebriated crowd gatherings near the beach areas, has recorded a minimum of five deaths because of rash driving every year since 2012 besides numerous accidents, said a police official in Mylapore traffic police station.
Just like every other year in the recent past, over 10,000 police personnel are going to be deployed all over the city especially on East Coast Road, Marina Beach, Mount Road and Besant Nagar. These are places where large groups of revellers – men and women – gather and often turn unruly, making it difficult for officials to manage. Traffic signals would function through the night.
“We are so over burdened with cases that we wouldn’t be able to keep track of cases we would file. We don’t know how many would have managed to slip out. From women who get eve-teased and groped by men, inebriated people riding triples, rash driving, ganja problem, loud music and bursting crackers at odd hours are just a few problems to name,” said T. Ganapthi police official at Shastri Nagar police station .
Hyderabad recorded six deaths in 2014, four in 2013 and 10 in 2012 in road accidents on New Year day. Cops will patrol the city checking for drunk driving, racing, zigzag drive, over-speeding. “We are also planning to close a few flyovers on those nights. We will be conducting checks at 6 pm which is before people start hitting the bars and once at 1 am when the bars close,” said Jitender, Addl.CP traffic police Hyderabad.
(With inputs from Haritha John, Anusha Puppala and Pheba Mathew.)