June 22, 2020
Udhagamandalam: In existence for the past about 13 years a ‘May I Help You’ post of the Nilgiris police has become an indispensable part of the department in this hill station. Located at a vantage point in Charing Cross on the threshold of the town the facility was brought into being by Ms.Vidya D.Kulkarni, the then Superintendent of Police, the Nilgiris to facilitate traffic management and extend assistance to the lakhs of tourists entering this popular vacation destination.
Though the move was initially resisted by well meaning residents of Ooty on the grounds that the structure would aggravate congestion and turn out to be an eye sore at a very important part of the town, it gained acceptance over the years as it started catering to the requirements of the local police in different ways.
Now it is being viewed as a source of safety at Charing Cross.
With the passage of time the surveillance cum public address system of the police post has expanded its activities and now doubles up as a convenient centre for enhancing awareness about various social issues. The latest in that line is the warnings about the spread of the dreaded Covid-19 being announced at regular intervals to prevent people from behaving in an irresponsible manner.
While all these are producing the desired results from the police point of view, an opinion gathering ground among observers is that the system can do with some changes which will help those manning the post go beyond keeping an eye on motorists (mostly locals), who quite often turn into nervous wrecks by the time they find parking space.
The observers feel that the system can also be used to get traffic hazards like stray ponies and cows off the roads by informing the authorities concerned.
They pointed out that a long time regret of pedestrians was that the system had seldom been used to help them, though the town had for a long time in the past been flaunted as a ‘pedestrians paradise’.