Fifteen-year old Anshu Hari Kumar always dreamt of becoming an IAS officer, but after playing the city traffic cop for a day, she now resolves to join the IPS. And "discipline this essentially undisciplined though extremely lovely city".
She spent all of February 19 as DC-traffic — her prize for winning an essay contest organized by Kolkata Police. Commissioner Surajit Kar Purakayastha and DC-traffic Dilip Adak sat back and took notes as she went about her job — checking control room screens, taking phone calls from thanas and advised policemen on the streets.
Tackling traffic woes
Anshu has not stopped smiling and her phone hasn't stopped ringing. A Class X student of GSS High School for Girls on Pratapaditya Road, Anshu will be appearing for her CBSE board exams from March 3, but that doesn't stop her from dreaming of a congestion free city with neat sidewalks. Anshu's essay was judged the best for its vision and innovative ideas.
Her suggestions — rigorous spot fines, creating barricades that would automatically channelize pedestrians to sidewalks, escalators at every footbridge, underground parking facilities and congestion mapping — have set police thinking.
"I felt like pinching myself when the commissioner greeted me at Lalbazar. They called me ma'am, gave me a secretary, and were ready to implement all my commands. I felt like Cinderella!" she told her friends in school on Thursday, as they gathered around her asking for her story.
Basking in glory
Anshu still had the hat on as she danced her way to meet the principal, some teachers and close friends. "Our friend is the first ever woman DC traffic of the city. Who wouldn't feel proud," said Nisha Agarwal. "We have collected all the newspapers that have carried her photograph," Prabha Jha giggled.
Principal Manween Rajpal was beside herself with joy. "I still remember the four-year-old Anshu walking into KG. She is a rare combination of academic excellence, good behaviour and leadership skills," she said.
Anshu narrated one of her experiences: "A sergeant posted near South Point school called me to complain of traffic congestion. I simply asked them to divert traffic on a roundabout route. It helped."
"I feel we can speed up traffic movement if a density and congestion mapping is done. The traffic lights can then be synchronized according to the expected congestion," Anshu said. She believes hawkers should be restricted to some zones and the rest of the pavement be "reserved for walkers".
Anshu is all praise for traffic police. "The fact that they still manage to keep the wheels moving at a reasonable speed in Kolkata's chaos is a miracle," she said.
Great PR for Police
Purakayastha was happy at the experiment. "We are trying to bring in police-public interface in the system and will have many more similar events," he said. Adak said, "I was surprised at how informed the little girl was and how fresh were her ideas. Kids are thinking differently today and it would help us if we continue to interact with them."
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