Friday, February 18, 2011

Kolkata police use Facebook to reach out to citizens

Kolkata: Kolkata residents will no more have to spend time dialling the traffic police number to lodge complaints or present grievances. They can now log on to the social networking site Facebook and interact with the authorities.

"In order to communicate with the people, the Kolkata Traffic Police have created a Facebook profile where it shares useful notes and data from time to time," Swapan Banerjee, officer in-charge of traffic computer cell, said Saturday. "All are invited to share ideas and suggestions related to the daily traffic activities," he said.

People have been urged to post photographs or video clippings of traffic violations. "In that case, we request the complainant to mention his or her contact number so that we can seek further clarification, if necessary," Banerjee added.

The traffic police have also roped in eminent Bengali actor Sabyasachi Chakraborty to promote the new step and urge residents to send their ideas and suggestions to improve traffic movement in Kolkata.

The Facebook profile ( has 4,083 members till date, participating in forum discussion on issues like traffic management and technology, taxi complaints, rash driving, online payment of traffic fine etc.

An active member, Monikornika Mukherjee, lodged several complaints against taxi drivers for refusing to go on hire or demanding more than double the actual fair.

Another Facebook user Aditi Sethia requested the traffic police to act against eve-teasers.

In both cases, the Kolkata traffic Police responded, saying the complaints have been forwarded to the authority concerned for necessary action.

Another active member Abbishek Das has posted several photographs of commuters violating traffic rules.

In the online forum the police also mentioned that this year they prosecuted around 3,600 taxi drivers for hire-refusal as per complaints received through sms, the complaint card and the website.

Banerjee said: "There are around 15 officers operating the Facebook account and the grievances section of the traffic computer cell. They look after the grievances and send necessary feedback to the complaints."

The police also inform the public about traffic-related issues and provide updates on rallies and road blockades put up by political parties in different parts of the city.

City traffic police joint commissioner Vineet Goyel is also seen participating in online discussions on several issues.

In a recent post, he wrote: "I would like to inform you all that air traffic control is operational on Theatre road, Park Street and A.J.C. Bose Road from Park Street crossing to Rabindra Sadan crossing. Looking forward to your comments on journey experience in this area."

"The response to our Facebook profile is great. It has provided a round-the-clock two-way communication on traffic requirement problems in Kolkata," said Goyel.

However, some users have alleged that the policemen operating the traffic police Facebook account are not tech savvy.

They said the response to grievances come late and that there are no responses during night even in serious cases.

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