In the name of reporting traffic violation, pictures of girls are being clicked

Transport Minister Ramkrishna (Sudin) Dhavalikar on Thursday assured the Legislative Assembly of reviewing the Traffic Sentinel Scheme after MLAs, cutting across the party lines, demanded that it be kept in abeyance citing irregularities. A discussion on the subject turned stormy when MLAs questioned the legality of the scheme, its implementation as well as alleged misuse of photos particularly that of females. Deputy Speaker Michael Lobo, who has been vociferously demanding scrapping of the scheme, alleged that photos clicked in the name of traffic sentinel scheme are being used for prostitution. He sought to know why the right of privacy was being intruded through this year-old scheme, which was not granted cabinet approval until recently. “In the name of reporting traffic violation, pictures of girls are being clicked and the pimps are circulating these claiming ‘these girls are available’. Do we have the right to privacy or not?” he questioned. He was supported by Pratapsingh Rane and Kavlekar. Lobo also cited tense situations across his constituency, as well as in Mapusa, owing to this scheme, while also taking a potshot at the government for running the scheme illegally. “It is an illegal scheme. Withdraw and scrap it,” he demanded.

Leader of the Opposition Chandrakant (Babu) Kavlekar and BJP MLA Glen Ticlo had moved a Calling Attention Motion demanding that the scheme be scrapped. The motion was backed by several MLAs during an elaborate discussion. After failing to convince the MLAs on the enforcement of the scheme, Dhavalikar, who spoke on behalf of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, said the government will review the scheme. “Since enforcement (of traffic rules) is not possible (across all places), there are traffic sentinels. I assure you we are thinking over this scheme and (will) come to a conclusion,” he told the House and pointed out that 75 per cent of the fatalities on the road are due to riders not wearing helmets. Dhavalikar said that efforts have been made to ensure that the number of accidents and fatalities on the roads are reduced. “We will review the scheme,” he assured, after MLAs demanded that the government either scrap or keep the scheme in abeyance. Town and Country Planning Minister Vijai Sardesai told the House that the scheme helps bring down traffic violations. He said that installations like CCTV on the road to track down the violations will also serve a purpose similar to that of traffic sentinels. During the discussion, Kavlekar alleged that people are being harassed in the name of the scheme. “The manner in which people are harassed could lead to law and order problem. There are already incidents wherein the sentinels have been attacked and in one case a vehicle was damaged,” he said.

Congress MLA Digambar Kamat also raised apprehension that the photos, particularly of girls could be misused in guise of the scheme. “It has created a difficult situation. Why can’t the police be deployed instead of outsourcing (reporting of traffic violation) to a third party? We are facing the brunt of the people although we have not approved the scheme. Women’s pictures could be misused. The government has to take some decision,” he said and speaking on how the scheme has evoked anger among the locals.  NCP’s Churchill Alemao also demanded that the scheme be scrapped while Congress MLA Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco asked the government why it was not setting up a similar scheme for eradicating drugs and prostitution. “It is a wrong policy. It has to be stopped and kept on hold,” Congress MLA Felipe Neri Rodrigues said. The MLAs apprehended that if the government did not take action, it would result in law and order problem.