Pune: In seventh transfer over four years, traffic DCP Satpute gets marching orders

Move draws flak from civic activists, experts who say the govt was ‘not serious’ about Pune’s ‘complex’ traffic issues.

Pune’s traffic department, that was stepping up its efforts to resolve the city’s increasing traffic mess, has undergone another change at the top, with Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Tejaswi Satpute on Monday being transferred as Superintendent of Police, Satara.

Satpute’s transfer, seventh in the last four-and-a-half years, has drawn flak from civic activists and traffic experts who said the state government was not serious about resolving the city’s traffic issues as it was not allowing top officers to settle down and initiate effective steps.

Pankaj Deshmukh, SP, Satara, has been transferred to Pune as Satpute’s replacement. However, it is not yet clear as to who will take charge of the traffic department.

Satpute’s transfer has come just six months after she was posted as the in-charge of the traffic department. Six of her immediate predecessors as DCP (Traffic) had also met the same fate. They were all transferred just when they got a hang of the job.

Before her, Vishwas Pandhare, Sarangwad Awad, Pravin Munde, Kalpana Barawkar, Pravin Munde and Ashok Morale served from June 2014 to October 2018. Before these seven DCPs, two other DCPs, Manoj Patil and Vishwas Pandhare, got a full term of three years.

“If seven transfers have happened in four-and-a-half years, it shows how serious the state home department is about Pune’s traffic issues. Traffic problems relate to the quality of life of the residents, affecting their health, and is matter of life and death. It is clear that the government does not want top officers to settle down in the job and take effective steps to ease the residents’ issues,” said Prashant Inamdar of Pedestrians First.

Civic activist Gopal Tiwari said it was difficult to believe that the state government did not understand the seriousness of the traffic problems in the city.

“Satpute’s team was doing a satisfactory job in ensuring discipline on city roads. Then why would the government transfer her in such a short period of time? It is unfathomable that top officers are transferred for doing a good job,” he added.

Inamdar said if team leaders were changed with such frequency, it showed that the government had a casual attitude towards the city’s traffic issues. “Top officers are appointed to the traffic department as if they are caretakers and babysitters for a short term,” he added.

Questioning the government’s appointment policy, Inamdar also said officers who did not have any experience in the traffic department were appointed for the job.

“The officers come with a blank slate. It takes at least a year for them to understand the nitty-gritty of the department and its issues. And just when they get a hang of it, they get their marching orders,” he added.

Satpute said she had no experience of the job when she came in. “I had no experience of the traffic job… but I learnt over the months,” she added.

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