Diversion of funds meant for salary leaves 187 traffic wardens in lurch
For three years Vasant Kaluram Lande has been commuting daily from Bhor to perform his duty as a traffic warden with the Wanawadi traffic division. A few days ago Lande, who is the sole breadwinner in a family of six, did not have the money to buy medicines for his five-year-old daughter.
No choice: Traffic warden Vasant Kaluram Lande controls traffic on a
city road. Not paid for two months, Lande did not have money to buy
medicines for his daughter when she was unwell recently.
The reason he is in financial difficulties is that he has not received his salary for the last two months. Lande is not the only one. There are 187 traffic wardens who have been working without pay for two months. They are caught in this situation as a large chunk of the budgetary provisions made for their salary was suddenly diverted towards development purposes without consulting the Security Department.
The Security Department of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) was allotted Rs 1.5 crore for traffic wardens this year. But then, Rs 25 lakh of the total allotment was locked for development purposes, forcing the Security Department to stop paying traffic wardens two months ago.
S S Salunkhe, an inspector working with the Jilha Surakha Rakshak Mandal agency that provides traffic wardens to work with the traffic police, said: "We have been assured that the backlog of payment will be cleared
PMC Chief Security Officer Santosh Pawar said: "We receive funds from the Traffic Planning Department. We were unable to pay the salaries as Rs 25 lakh was locked for some other purpose. But we have made correspondence with other departments and we believe we will be able to clear the salary for two months by next week."
The wardens also have other worries; in June representatives of all political parties had demanded discontinuation of the traffic warden scheme saying wardens were making little difference towards better regulation of traffic in the city. The representatives also demanded discontinuation of their salary payment, stating it was a complete waste. Still, the warden scheme was not scrapped.
This scheme was first implemented in 2007, when the PMC decided to recruit traffic wardens for a year. Around 400 wardens from Jilha Suraksha Raskshak Mandal were appointed. Traffic wardens say irregular payments has already resulted in many of them quitting their job.
Made to slog
THE warden scheme was in a controversy recently when NGOs in the city claimed that wardens were left to control traffic on their own while policemen relaxed in a corner. The then deputy commissioner of police Manoj Patil gave instructions that wardens should not ask people for documents or collect fines on behalf of the traffic police and action would be taken against them if they were found doing these things.