I have a stomach ache. What medicine should I take? the caller asked. Exasperated,Asha Singh,who was attending to the call,politely asked the caller to consult the nearest doctor. This was probably her 50th call of the day that was not related to an emergency.
But that was not the end. The next call was regarding a Vodafone recharge. Fed up,Singh pulled out an address from the directory and directed the caller to the nearest Vodafone dealer.
What seemed like calls made to a Just Dial-like service were actually calls made on the emergency number for the Delhi Police 100. Singh,who was attending to the calls,is a constable posted with the Central Police Control Room.
In February,Delhi Police had created 30 separate lines for police-related queries. They were created after regular enquiry calls clogged the emergency police helpline 100.
However,an analysis of the number of calls on the enquiry lines have revealed that the lines are busier than the regular emergency line on 100,and are flooded with at least 1,000 calls a day.
A senior police officer said the Dial 100 helpline has 100 extensions that are manned by 600 Delhi Police personnel. Another 10 personnel man the 30 separate enquiry lines in three shifts,with each looking after five lines.
When an enquiry call is made on the 100,it is immediately transferred to the enquiry call unit. The unit was created since the helpline 100 would be always be engaged. Each personnel takes a minimum of two minutes to look for information sought by the caller. But when we started getting calls regarding dysfunctional civic agencies or personal calls requesting police to find missing pets or procuring movie tickets,we decided to segregate 30 lines. But the number of calls on these enquiry lines are more than those received on the Dial 100 emergency line.
According to police data,the 30 lines receive about 14,000 calls a day,of which more than 80 per cent have nothing to do with the Delhi Police. The emergency helpline receives about 28,000 calls a day of which 15,000 are blank calls. Only 13,000 calls received fall in the category of emergency or distress calls.
The officer said,The enquiry calls system was created primarily to attend to these calls,since the extension for all the lines is the same. There is no point telling people that the line is only meant for information related to police,because the number is always available. Everyone thinks of police when there is an emergency,even if it is a fight between a dog and a cat or an enquiry regarding a bus route.