Police phones donít ring a bell

Landline phones of at least 40 out of over 115 police chowkys under the jurisdiction of Pune police are out of order due to various reasons. Sixteen of them do not even have a functioning phone connection for the past one and half years, whereas outgoing call facility in several others has been barred for the past one week due to non-payment of bills.

To top it all, around 10 telephone lines, including those of the offices of some senior officers, which come under the Shivajinagar police phone exchange, have been out of order for the past three months due to the same reason: non-payment of bills.

In January 2011, after Newsline reported on similar lapses in 17 police chowkys, the then additional commissioner of police (administration) Sanjivkumar Singhal had announced that these chowkys will get the phones. Ironically, 16 of those 17 chowkys did get the phone sets, but do not have a functioning phone connection yet. "Some of those chowkys were given a phone connection, but they soon stopped working and never started working again. Meanwhile, some of the chowkys never got a phone connection," says a police staffer with the office of Zone III deputy commissioner of police. (See box)

On Monday, when Newsline called the landline numbers of all the police stations, it came to light that 16 police chowkys from Zone III and IV together did not have a working phone connection. While 24 from Zone I and II together were out of order for the past one week due to non-payment of bills.

Additional Commissioner of Police (Admn) Abdur Rehman said: "Some of the land line phones are not working due to not payment of bills. The delay in payment is from the director general's office. They have not released the payment as of now. We expect to get the payment within a few days. These phones will start functioning soon."

He added, "As far as the other phones are concerned, the procedure to procure a new phone connection is very lengthy. First the proposal goes to the home department and then to finance. I will personally follow this matter."

A staffer with a police chowky in Zone III said, "In a day a chowky staffer has to make a large number of calls to the main police station. We are doing this using our cell phones ever since the chowky started."

It may be recalled that about two years ago, former police commissioner Meern Borwankar had started a drive to strengthen the individual police chowkys as basic law and order units. A senior inspector attached to a police station said, "We must not forget that a chowky is even more important than a police station. It is close to people's houses and they know the staffers there. A police chowky without a phone is of no use."

According to an accounts division employee of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) said, "Some of the numbers have no phone sets, but have a connection. In some cases, it must be the other way round. Outgoing facility of some Pune police officer's numbers have also been barred, as their bills have not yet been paid."

Why don't they take calls?

Police station Chowkys* Reason

Khadak 7 Bill not paid

Deccan 2 Bill not paid

Warje 4 Bill not paid

Bibwewadi, Bund Garden, Lashkar 2 Each Bill not paid

Koregaon Park, Vishrantwadi, Bharati

Vidyapeeth, Shivajinagar, Kothrud, Swargate 1 Each Bill not paid

Chatushrungi, Hinjewadi 2 Each No Connection

Sangvi, Bhosari 4 Each No Connection

*Including non-functioning chowkys

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