Delhi municipality wants policemen dedicated to civic tasks

April 10th, 2009 - 4:46 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 10 (IANS) Unable to cope with rising menace of stray cattle and encroachments in the national capital, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi has asked Delhi Police to create a dedicated wing to help deal with civic issues.
This is perhaps the only national capital where stray cattle roam the streets. They cause traffic pile-ups and worse. Last week a pair of twins died when they tried to swerve around a cow, fell from their motorcycle, and were run over.

In a proposal to the Delhi Police commissioner, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), which manages 94 percent of Delhi’s land area, recently asked for 150 policemen to work exclusively with it.

“We made the request three months back and it has reached an advanced stage. The police commissioner’s office has informed that they have approved (the proposal) and passed it to the central government for final approval,” MCD Commissioner K.S. Mehra told IANS.

“Though the policemen will not be a part of the MCD, they will act under our purview. The two companies of policemen will work in coordination with MCD’s 13 enforcement officers.

“These policemen will accompany the agency’s enforcement officers or cattle catchers,” Mehra explained.

Stressing the need for a dedicated force, he said MCD officials often face violent resistance and get beaten up.

“Often our officials face stiff resistance and offenders don’t cooperate. Like if there is a case of stray cattle, the owners chase and attack our people with lathis (sticks),” Mehra said.

Unlike the police, MCD officials do not have legal powers to deal with such cases.

“Most of the time police are unable to depute their personnel on time; either they are short-staffed or are busy dealing with other important cases. For police, the priority is VIP security, crime, patrolling and then, if time allows, civic offenders,” said a senior MCD official.

“Even now to carry out a raid or anything we need to put in a request two days before. Once the new police force is approved, we need to just notify the police half an hour in advance,” the official added.

Mehra said two companies of policemen will help them get over all constraints and they are hopeful that the proposal would go through after the general elections, when the model code of conduct will no longer be in place.

The commissioner emphasised that the issue of stray cattle will be among their first priorities, once the MCD police brigade is approved.

The issue of stray cattle has assumed a serious proportion with an estimated 20,000 cows running loose in the national capital. The jaywalking cows end up causing traffic chaos and accidents.

There have been incidents when some cows have attacked residents. Facing the court’s wrath in many cases, the MCD had had to cough up over Rs.100,000 in compensation over the years.

“These incidents are very unfortunate. This is the capital city; still such things are happening and have to be dealt with wisely,” Mehra said.

As many as 135 pockets of the national capital area are ‘urbanised villages’, where the problems of stray cattle is rampant.

These areas retained what Mehra called “the village character”; small- time farming and dairy where villagers own hundreds of cows and depend on them for their livelihood. But development in the periphery has mushroomed, and hundreds of cows end up displaced for most of the day.

At present the MCD is awaiting its standing committee’s approval on the proposal to impose a fine of Rs.5,000-10,000 on cattle owners whose cows are found roaming on the streets.

Under the law, if an owner fails to take care of his cattle, he can face six months in jail or a fine of Rs.1,000 or both. The MCD imposes no fine to release the animal from the pound. The owner, who must own a licence, has to pay the civic authorities the expenses incurred in seizing and feeding the cattle.

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