BY- MADHUSHREE PAUL
“Main nikla, ho Gaddi leke, Ho Raste par, Ho Sadak pe…
Ik POTHOLE ayaaaa, main uth dil (like literally!) chhod aaya!”
And that pretty much symbolizes the pain of daily commuters throughout India. The condition of Indian roads is to blame for providing the beautiful and magnificent roller coaster ride to the daily commuters. And these are seldom repaired. Almost. Because when they are, it just takes about a month or two to get those potholes intact again, so that the people can take enjoyable rides without paying at all. But are people not paying? Well, at least not monetarily, but definitely with their lives.
“Over 9300 deaths, 25000 injured in 3 years due to potholes.”
Potholes cannot be the only one responsible because they are not. Lack of street lights has also resulted in numerous accidents in highways, lack of construction. All these are highly responsible for accidents. But Indian government prefers Construction of Rules over Road.
The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 governs laws relating to motor vehicles. The most recent amendment was introduced by the Parliament in 2019 and was implemented from 1st September onwards, which had very seriously taken into heed the reason for road accidents and which mostly includes drunken driving, exceeding speed limits, not wearing a helmet, etc. which is necessary to be looked at after all. What the amendment specifically includes is a new chart of penalty that is to be charged from offenders. For instance, if a motorist is not wearing a helmet, he will not be fined Rs. 100, but straight up Rs. 1000 and for a cherry on top, his license will be disqualified for three months. Feel the burn? Not yet?
Well, if someone is speeding or racing, the fine has climbed up from Rs. 500 to Rs. 5000. And how can we forget drunken driving, whose penalty charges will be as high as Rs. 10,000. There is no point in arguing against the fact that these laws are important and it is for the good of the citizens of this country. It is important for the ignorant citizens who think it to be fun to speed off and race with every other vehicle on the road, who thinks it to be cool to consume alcohol and drive because it is not. But the real question to be asked here is that “Is this Enough?”
Is it Enough to reduce, or stop altogether road accidents?
Do we still not need Construction of Road and better traffic facilities at our disposal to avoid road accidents once and for all and instead need Rules ?
The reasons for these questions are very clearly the conditions of Indian roads that are mostly responsible for such accidents.
Supreme Court even took note of 3,597 deaths due to pothole-related accidents in 2017.
And lack of street lights plays a very important role in messing with the commuters. Because they cannot even make out the shape of a vehicle coming their way until it is close. And without street lights, the already existing potholes are invisible as well, making it even tough for drivers to drive in peace.
The amendment act and its Rules has been successful so far in preventing Road accidents due to drunken driving, speeding, keeping offenders at bay but still nothing is being done to deal with its Construction. But who are the offenders here? When do 3 flyovers collapse in 5 years? Yes, it is the City of Joy we are talking about, first the Ultadanga Flyover in 2013, then the Vivekananda Flyover in 2016 and then the Major-Hath Bridge collapses in 2018. And the reasons for all these mishaps, the real offenders are no doubt – BAD CONSTRUCTION.
“The Road Accidents in India Report of 2015 by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways noted that in Karnataka, the number of Fatalities in road accidents was 10,856 and injuries was 56,971. While 465 accidents and 82 deaths in the State were caused due to the road being under repair/construction, 248 accidents occurred because of ‘loose surface’, resulting in 55 deaths. Another 182 accidents were caused by potholes.”
It is commendable how strictly the Amendment Act is being followed and has resulted in much fewer road accidents and offences involved with motor vehicles since its implementation. But that is just one side of the coin. The other side being proper roads, ensuring proper construction, which is not being ensured as of now. And the government is not the only one to blame here, a lot of times what is seen is that the government sanctions money for construction but the amount used for construction is much less than what was approved. Which takes us to the third side of the coin, which showcases corruption. A coin does not have three sides, so it is relevant to the state, because this side is not tangible, lest, it is there. It is only when both sides of the coin are being implemented and there is no possible third side is when these mishaps will stop occurring.