The police tweeted that checks would go on to ensure that citizens complied with lockdown rules and non essential movement was avoided. Motorists and transport activists said that although the intention behind the stickers’ directive was noble, implementation was bound to be a problem right since its inception.
The Mumbai police’s directive to have colour coded stickers on vehicles was not backed with sufficient planning. Police stations that were supposed to stock up on sufficient stickers for distribution could not do so with stationery shops being shut. The directive ended up delaying motorists and leading to snarl-ups. It is a good thing that the decision was rolled back promptly within a week, rather than inconvenience citizens further.
The police’s objective was to ensure smooth passage to emergency vehicles like those carrying medical equipment or patients. “It was necessary for stickers to be issued by authorities such as the cops, BMC or RTOs but the purpose was defeated when the police said anyone could put up stickers. When people start putting up stickers, it is impossible to check how many of them are genuinely essential workers. Lack of a holistic approach was the problem,” said activist AV Shenoy.
Activists also said the directive put unnecessary burden on the already stretched police force. Nakabandis put up for checking the stickers were leading to congestion. “Most motorists were confused as to which sticker was to be affixed and where to procure it from as stationery shops are shut,” said Narayan Kannan, a regular commuter. Some opportunists made money out of the police directive by selling each sticker for upwards of Rs 50.
Lawyer Armin Wandrewala, who had dashed off a letter to police commissioner Hemant Nagrale soon after he announced the sticker directive, said it was plain impractical. “If I’m heading to the pharmacy to buy medicines, then purchasing some groceries before going to my office, should I be affixing all three stickers on my vehicle?,” she said, adding that the other problem was visibility issue as the sticker was to be affixed on the windscreen.
On Friday, the last day of the sticker drive, 60 cases were made against motorists whose vehicles sported no sticker and 34 cases were made against those who intentionally sported wrong stickers. “The directive was discontinued as it was prone to misuse and was creating confusion among motorists,” said a senior police officer.