November 20, 2015 @ 6:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Indian School of Design & Innovation (ISDI)
4th Floor
Tower 2A- Lobby level, One Indiabulls Centre, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel
Landmark : Same level as D'bell lounge

On November 20, 2015, V Citizens Action Network (VCAN) Partnered with Social Media Week Mumbai 2015, to show how Technology has been used to promote Social Causes through TogetherVCAN’s Social Sanchars.

The Special 6th TogetherVCAN’s Social Sanchar focused on MySafetyMyLife, was held with Guest Speaker Mr. Milind Bharambe, Jt. Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Mumbai, at Social Media Week Mumbai 2015. The event was at ISDI, One Indiabulls Center, Lower Parel, Mumbai – 400012.

The Social Sanchar was preceded by a very successful Tweet Chat on the campaign #MySafetyMyLife with Mr. Milind Bharambe, on November 15, 2015, which was the UN declared Road Accidents Victims Remembrance Day.

The Tweet Chat generated about 13 Lakh Views and was Trending at No. 1 position in Mumbai and India levels. This happened in just the one-hour chat where Citizens’ questions on the Mumbai City’s traffic were answered by Mr. Bharambe, in real time.

At the Social Sanchar, Managing Trustee of V Citizens Action Network, Mrs. Indrani Malkani, who moderated the Social Sanchar, introduced the campaign, noting that Road Safety has become an issue of concern at National as well at the International level. The United Nations has rightly proclaimed 2011-20 as the Decade of Action on Road Safety.

Over the years, the significant growth of vehicles on road has been the leading cause of accidents resulting into deaths, disabilities and hospitalizations with severe socio-economic costs across the country.

As per the Government of India Report 2014 – “During the year 2014, there were around 4.89 lakhs road accidents which killed about 1.40 lakh people and injured more than 4.93 lakh persons in India. The analysis of road accident data 2014 reveals that about 56 accidents take place and 16 lives are lost every hour on an average in our country. In India, 53.8 per cent road accident victims are in the age group of 15 to 34 years. Further, drivers’ fault (78.8 per cent) has been found as the single most important factor responsible for road accidents.”

“In support of the UN Proclamation of declaring 2011-20 as the Decade of Action on Road Safety, we have taken the pledge “My Safety, My Life” and work together to address Road Safety concerns in our communities!

Instead of thinking that Our Safety is in the hands of others, we must ensure that we ourselves do all we can to ensure safety on roads; if everyone thinks this way, we can actually achieve safer road conditions and reduce fatalities from traffic accidents.
It is our Responsibility to be Safe on Roads and the Campaign MySafetyMyLife will be ongoing!”

Mr. Bharambe stated that the challenges faced by the Traffic Police in managing the Traffic is dependent on many stakeholder agencies such as MCGM, MMRDA, MSRDC, and PWD who are responsible for the infrastructure of roads, bridges, signalling system etc. Another important stakeholder is the Regional Transport Organisation (RTO), an agency which is commonly confused with the Traffic Police. The RTO actually does the evaluation of one’s ability to drive a vehicle as well as the fitness of vehicles and issues respective permits and licenses. The Elected Representatives are yet another very important stakeholder, as they frame the Law, and the Central Motor Vehicles Act, by which Traffic related issues and Vehicles are governed.

The Traffic Police, is an enforcement agency vis-a-vis regulation of traffic and enforcement of Law and from such a perspective, there are very many stake holders in the traffic management of a city. Technology has come in very handy and the Traffic Police’s intent to connect with people has got them to launch a Mumbai Traffic Police Helpline. This info helpline 8454 999 999 not only gives you traffic advisory (roads with heavy traffic, routes to avoid, routes to take) but also route advisory, especially for people who do not know how to reach a destination.

Incident Reporting is also a feature available where citizens can register traffic violations. A mobile app MTPcall has also been launched for the android platform, where any incident can be reported with pictures / videos and immediate action will be taken after verification. There will be many location based services which also would be offered. A revamped Traffic Warden Scheme will be launched soon, where citizens’ participation in traffic management will be crucial. The Traffic department is also coming up with Virtual Training Centers at their Headquarters, which will reach out and engage the community, in their different endeavours. Citizens’ participation in traffic management, hence, will change the face of Mumbai.

Mr. Bharambe emphasised that, it is the endeavour of the Mumbai Traffic Police to empower the Citizens of Mumbai with knowledge about the various issues and challenges related to Traffic issues.

Mr. V. Ranganathan, Trustee of V Citizens Action Network and former Chief Secretary, Maharashtra State, spoke of his thoughts on Road Safety and the way that Citizens should Interact and strengthen the Government. There has been a disconnect between the Public Servants and the Public; very often citizens feel they do not get the services for which they’re paying and on the other hand the latter is of the opinion that people do not have civic sense. Social Media has emerged as a very powerful and effective force that can bridge the divide between the government and public. Hence, programs like Social Media Week are important.

Mr. D. Sivanandhan, Trustee of V Citizens Action Network and former Commissioner of Police, Mumbai, and Director General Maharashtra, made it known that Traffic Management is based on three aspects: Education, Engineering and Enforcement. While the traffic department takes care of the enforcement part, Social Media can play an integral role in involving citizens with education and engineering. India loses about 1.4 lakh people through accidents, 70% of which are motorcyclists, who do not use helmets. Social Media networks will find it easy to reach out to most citizens to impart education on safety measures on the roads.

Questions were taken online as well as from the in house audience. Some are given below along with Mr. Bharambe’s answer:

Q: (i) The primary duty of the Traffic Police is to control traffic but many a times policemen are focussed on collecting fines by the roadside instead of focussing on the traffic, which is in a mess. (ii) At Bandra station, auto rickshaws dominate instead of the rule of law with no policemen around.
Ans: We always run the dichotomy of regulation and enforcement. In developed countries, one hardly sees policemen on the roads, which is because of good engineering vis-a-vis fly overs, under passes, signage, road markings etc. Moreover, drivers are given licenses only after very strict checking. Also, the laws are so stringent with high fine amount, which acts as a deterrent, because of which one follows the Law. In Mumbai, at signalised junctions where there are no policemen, it is the tendency even of the educated class, to jump signals. While comparing and expecting, we must compare it with the society in which we live in. Police is involved with enforcement of law but is usually caught up with regulation due to lack of amenities. The chaos at Bandra station needs more response from the Traffic Police and this will surely be looked into.

Q: Make Jay walking punishable as jaywalkers pose risk to their and others lives
Ans: Jaywalking is already punishable under the Mumbai Police Act. The issue is mainly a social issue – the better civic amenities we have and the more incentives given with better enforcements, things are likely to fall in place in a better way. For instance, at many junctions, there are no sub ways or sky walks where people tend to cross, but at several places, in spite of these facilities people refuse to use it. At such places, enforcement needs to come in, which requires technology, man power and other resources. With better education and citizen participation, Jaywalking can be eliminated.

Q: There should be at least more communication between traffic cops and general public
Ans: We have already started that through such Social Sanchars, as the one in progress, and will have many more to come.

Q: Can we incentivise volunteers who help regulate traffic along with the Police as their work is effective
Ans: For a population like ours along with 25 lakh vehicles and 3500 policemen working in 3 shifts, hardly 1200 policemen are available to cover the entire city at any given point of time. Hence, public participation is invited through the Traffic Warden scheme. The scheme of Traffic Wardens is going to be relaunched where all stake holders will be requested to become sponsors for the betterment of the city. The Wardens will be paid Rs. 12,000 as honorarium. NGOs contribution through free man power will always be welcome. Proper uniforms and training will also be provided.

Q: Can people trying to cross the roads, when the signal is green for vehicles, be fined?
Ans: It is the civic authority that needs to create a pedestrian crossing, a zebra crossing, appropriate signal timings etc. At the same time, there has been a drastic increase in people and vehicle population but the amount of space for use on roads haven’t increased. Hence, everybody is striving for the same space on the road – regulation and enforcement becomes a challenge – that is where education and self-restraint will help put things in order. A stronger Law is already in the process of being tabled in Parliament and is expected to come through in a couple of months. Harsher law will be a better deterrent and help in enforcement.

Q: (1) Police hire private towing vehicles to pick up 2 wheelers on the road. It is allowed as per RTO norms. (2) Heavy vehicles usually drive from right side of the road (3) Transporters on Kesavji Naik road park vehicles in middle of the road to load cargo. I have informed the traffic officers to fine them but officers refuse to take action. Also the service road is also occupied by these transporters. It becomes very difficult for the citizens to walk on the roads especially in the evening. Hope to get solution on the same.
Ans: (1) Police is authorised to tow vehicles. (2) That’s a part of education more than of enforcement as it is risky and difficult for a policemen to regulate heavy vehicles from right to left. (3) That’s an enforcement issue, which the Traffic Police should take care of.

A Member in the audience appreciated the Police Bandobast and about the wonderful arrangements made by the Police for lakhs of people at Juhu for the Chhat Puja.

Citizens were requested to send in their questions via SMS or Twitter, which will be passed on to Jt. C. P. Bharambe for his responses.

To view the photos of the TogetherVCAN’s Social Sanchar 6, click here.

To view the video of the TogetherVCAN’s Social Sanchar 6, click here.