In the bustling city of Pune, an IT, education and entrepreneurial hub, an ugly spirit of traffic lawlessness is proving a challenge for the police to reckon with.With barely 1400-odd traffic personnel tasked to man a burgeoning city of more than 30 lakh vehicles (as per RTO statistics) across the Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad townships, enforcing traffic discipline seems a Sisyphean task, according to officials.However, the linking of the e-challan system with the city’s CCTV camera network last week has reaped rich dividends and could well be a panacea to curb the city’s rampant traffic outlawry across its 28 traffic divisions in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, say authorities.With this, a traffic offender will not only receive an SMS detailing his violation, but also photo evidence of the same with a link directing him to the nearest police station where the penalty can be paid.“The rationale behind this facility [linking the e-challan system with CCTV cameras] is to reduce the burden on our meagre taskforce manning signals and help us go paperless while ensuring that no offender goes scot-free,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (traffic) Pravin Mundhe told The Hindu.Presently, around 1,250-odd CCTV cameras are installed across the city, of which more than 200 have the options to pan, tilt and zoom. These cameras provide live feed to the main police control room. A screen-grab of a violation is culled from this footage as photographic evidence.“These photographs are saved online, and text messages are generated and sent to the cell phone number of the violator, along with the e-challan,” said Mr. Mundhe.Since the past week, more than 1500 e-challans have been sent to traffic violators detected through CCTV cameras.Taking note of the impact of demonetization and cash problems with ATMs, the city police have also introduced swipe machines to enable the offender to pay through cards.Talking about the importance of this link-up, Mr. Mundhe noted how the previous penalty system of dispatching letters to the postal addresses of traffic offenders proved to be a rather tedious and ineffectual one.“With this, we can facilitate better detailing of the violation and also ensure that the violator is not inconvenienced in case he or she has no money at that time. Offenders can pay at their local traffic division,” he said.Besides easing the pressure, the system has brought about a measure of transparency within the police force as well as in curbing cases of corruption or levying excess fines, says Assistant Commissioner of Police (admin) Rajendra Bhamare.On an average, 3000 cases of traffic violations are registered by the Pune police each day. Authorities say that the new system will aid in recording at least 2,000 more offences on a daily basis.“The traffic police possess mobile data of over seven lakh vehicle users. With the surging rates of accidents and deaths, we hope the deployment of this CCTV network in conjunction with e-challan system will help drivers halt vehicles on zebra crossings, prevent riding triple-seat and without a helmet,” Mr. Mundhe said, adding that in the long run it would aid in utilizing the existing traffic personnel manpower better to attend more pressing matters.One problem with this system, which police authorities face and against which activists rail against, is the flouting of rules by government vehicles and the lack of any mechanism to prosecute them.“As government vehicles are not registered in the name of any particular individual, the system proves ineffective when dealing with such violators as it is not possible to send out SMSes,” said RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar.Likewise, Mr. Kumbhar noted that garbage pickup trucks and vehicles belonging to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) nonchalantly jump signals and endanger commuters through their reckless driving.Last week, an RTI plea by city-based activist Azar Khan demanding to know how many government vehicles were fined under the new digitized system came a cropper as the police failed to procure information on the same.To redress this, Mr. Mundhe said that the police have urged higher officials from various departments to appoint a one-point contact to whom texts can be sent to highlight any offences committed.