Mumbai Diary: Thursday theme

The city — sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce

E-challaning proves a costly affair
In what seems like supreme irony, the Navi Mumbai traffic police department, which set an example by being the first in the state to introduce e-challans to motorists violating traffic norms (on August 1, 2014), is currently struggling to bring down the logistical cost of posting these challans to the offenders.

Sources from the department revealed that to bring down the cost, officials are now sending e-challans via regular post instead of speed post. By doing so, the department has managed to bring down the expense from anywhere between Rs 25 and Rs 80 to Rs 8 per post. However, the department is keen on further reducing this cost to below R 5.

At present, an offender receives a three-page e-challan from the traffic police department. The pages include printouts of the offender and his vehicle, personal and vehicle details and e-challan. These printouts are then packed in a special envelope and sent via post. Sources claim the printouts and envelopes takes toll on the budget.

Traffic departments in Bangalore and Hyderabad apparently send e-challans via special postcards printed for this purpose, which keeps the cost below Rs 2 per challan. Navi Mumbai’s traffic cops are trying to emulate this method. “E-challans are issued in various cities, including Bangalore and Hyderabad. But the method used by them to send these challans is far superior and cheaper as compared to ours.

A delegation of the traffic department of these cities had come to Navi Mumbai to explain the concept implemented by them to keep costs under control. We are now in talks with Mahaonline officials and trying to figure out ways to bring down the postal expenses to as low as R 2,” said an official from the traffic police department. Hopefully this will ease the burden on their own pockets.

We hear that at times officials themselves pay to purchase stationery required to post e-challans, as funds provided by the state are not enough. None of the officials are ever reimbursed for this. In case it seems like a mountain out of a molehill, consider that since January this year itself, 2,700 motorists have been issued e-challans. And of the 1,835 which were issued between August and December last year, only 343 paid their penalties.

Hoofing it, one step at a time
With the court directive to stop horse-drawn carriages in a year’s time, the question on many minds is, what will happen to the horses? People can always adapt and find new professions although we do feel a pang for the horse-wallahs, who have spent so much time with the four-legged companions/wage-earners.

Retirement home for horses, anyone? Pic/Suresh KK
Retirement home for horses, anyone? Pic/Suresh KK

Humans can learn new skills, can the horses do likewise? We doubt it! Sadly, some of the chatterati who are rah-rah for the ban don’t display the same enthusiasm for the rehabilitation of the horses. When even retired sniffer dogs languish sans home or love, what will be the fate of these bigger animals?

Not in my cab, madam
Call them occupational hazards. Or simply an oops moment. And it also illustrates the fact which we tend not to notice that when we chatter on, the cabbie is also listening. It was with some amusement that we heard of a journalist with a television channel who was commuting to an assignment recently.

She reported on crime news in the city or covered the crime beat, as they say in journalistic parlance. On that particular day, there had been two murders in Mumbai. So, this young reporter in a hurry whipped out her mobile telephone while in a taxi, and was talking to her colleague.

She was telling her colleague that she would ‘cover’ or report on one murder case, while he could go and ‘cover’ or report on the other. She was speaking in Hindi, and the conversation on the phone went something like this: “Main yeh murder report karti hoon, tum woh murder report kar lo”, which in translation meant, “I am reporting this murder, you report the other.”

The cab driver looked petrified on hearing this conversation, and slowed the cab down, took it to the side of the road and asked the reporter to exit the cab. “Please aap utar jao” (please get down) he told the befuddled journalist, who asked him why. “Utar jao (get down) koi lafda nahin chahiye....” (I don’t want any problems).

Since the young woman and nearly reached her destination she got down, but even then did not quite grasp the cabbie’s intention. It was only after she paid the fare and the cab took off in a hurry did she realise that the driver might have been spooked by hearing her side of the phone conversation. Ah! Such are the occupational hazards of journalism. We live, by fare (pun intended) means or murder most foul.

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