Panaji: After the scrapping of the traffic sentinel scheme by the cabinet on Wednesday, road safety activists who acted as traffic vigilantes have expressed their utter disappointment in the government’s decision.
“The legacy of Manohar Parrikar and the vision of former DGP Muktesh Chander has been lost with the scheme being discontinued,” said road safety activist, Pramod Sawant from Ponda adding that the government should have come up with another alternative to the scheme instead of completely scrapping it.
“By putting a stop to the scheme is a huge blunder,” said another activist, Dilip Naik. He was also the founding member and former president of the Goa Road Safety Forum. His efforts led to the formation of taluka-based road safety activists, many of who enrolled to become sentinels.
“The police are not able to reach every nook and corner of Goa, owing to which traffic sentinels act as road safety workers. There are some critical junctions on Goan roads which can be monitored by the sentinels given that we don’t have CCTVs or traffic police constantly surveilling such spots,” he said.
“I am disappointed. The scheme was very effective in reporting violators. Lack of finances cannot be an excuse for discontinuing the scheme since the money paid to sentinels as reward come from the penalty paid by violators. Also, the issue of sentinels being attacked can be resolved if the app has a ‘spy mode’ feature to help us record violations without suspicion,” said Yash Ganthe, who was a traffic sentinel.
The sentinels are now contemplating writing to the CM to revive the scheme, even if it is minus the point-based money awards.
“If the government doesn’t have money to pay the sentinels, then they could’ve continued with the scheme without the financial gains for the sentinels,” Ganthe said.
“Since the scheme was launched, Goa saw a reduction in the total number of accidents,” Sawant said.
The Goa Consumer Action Network (Goacan)said that the scheme proved that large amount of violations were taking place and they need to be addressed.
Prashant Naik, chairman, MARG Trust, however, begged to differ. Calling the traffic sentinel initiative, a ‘Don Quixote’ scheme he said that it “should not have been implemented in the first place” considering that the sentinels were “unqualified” to act as crusaders of road safety.