With signals mostly failing them, policemen in Madurai regulate traffic under the sun

Chaos and confusion have become the norm at most junctions in the city for the last few weeks with frequent power cuts rendering traffic signals non-functional at peak hours.

“In the sweltering heat, traffic policemen and vehicle users are tense and frustrated on such occasions. Most drivers fall prey to road rage and traffic is thrown out of control,” says a traffic police official.

While police say all the traffic signal lights were installed with Uninterruptible Power Supply sources, they have stopped functioning in the course of time.

This has forced traffic policemen to manually regulate traffic under the scorching sun.

The traffic lights and police booths set up at various points offer advertising space and the advertising agencies are responsible for their maintenance. A few traffic constables say the traffic lights could be fitted with solar panels which would help during power shutdowns.

Air–conditioned police booths have been established at vantage points such as Periyar bus stand, Yanaikkal, Aavin Junction, Kuruvikkaran Salai and Keezhavasal to bring some respite to the personnel on duty.

“But many of them don’t have functioning inverters to provide power back-up”, a traffic inspector says.

Assistant Commissioner of Police (Traffic) S. Yellaparaj says regular checks and maintenance of traffic lights and booths are being carried out following frequent power cuts.

The officials say private companies have already begun distributing umbrellas for the policemen in view of the rising temperature.

With the risks of dehydration high for the personnel constantly exposed to the sun, doctors say it is important to keep oneself hydrated with fluids rich in electrolytes.

“Intake of fluids at least once in every 45 minutes is necessary for people if they are constantly exposed to the sun. Diabetics and those under medication should take extra care against dehydration, and lime juice is the best option in view of its high electrolyte content,” says S. Karthick, a doctor at Apollo Hospitals.

Under a government scheme introduced last year, the traffic police personnel are being given lime juice twice a day.

“Police stations take weekly turns to prepare and distribute it to the personnel on duty,” says a traffic constable.

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