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Nitesh Kumar Sahoo

The rising figures of death rates in road mishaps have raised concerns if roads in Odisha are safe for commuting or not. Moreover, questions have been raised if it is the mistake of the administration or the irresponsible drivers? Who is to be blamed?

The recent horrific bus accident at Kalinga ghati that left six dead and over 42 others injured has streamed fear among many. Even the tragic incident on April 17, 2016 at Gailo ghat is still afresh in the minds of many. 

In the past 2 years, five accidents have been reported at Kalinga Ghat. Despite being an accident-prone zone, there is no signboard to alert the commuters while entering from Kandhamala and Bhanjanagar. Apart from that, the signboards installed in the midway have been damaged. 

On the other hand, the dangerous and uneven road of Gailo Ghat with 25 turns is another accident-prone zone in Deogarh. The guard walls on this path are damaged. Though demands have been made to repair the guard walls and widen the roads, the appeals are falling on deaf ears. 

Similar is the situation in Jeypore-Koraput ghat which witnesses several minor and major accidents in frequent intervals. 

To curb the tragic road mishaps, NHAI has proposed a 6-lane tunnel to the Central Transport department estimating over Rs 600 crore. 

While death cases are on surge in different tragic road mishaps, people and road safety experts have blamed the administration. 

"Installing signboards throughout the path is essential to alert the drivers. The guard walls constructed on roadsides are very low and not enough," said a resident of Durgaprasad.

Similarly, a resident from Deogarh said, "The bus accident of a Jatra group claimed the lives of 27 persons. Innumerable accidents have taken place after that in which many have died. The road is quite uneven and narrow which needs to be widened and guard walls should be constructed."

Unabated road mishaps and the spike in death rates have turned into a major concern for the Odisha government. As per the Central government's Road accident in India 2020 report, in comparison to 2019, the death rates have reduced in 2022, however, during lockdown and shutdown even around 9817 accidents were reported. While different accidents in 2020 claimed over 4378 lives in Odisha, over 8822 were injured. Taking the figures into consideration, Odisha recorded 27 accidents a day and 12 persons died every day. 

Using mobile phones while driving, drunken driving and speed driving claimed around 35% of lives.   

"Strong infrastructure is essential to reduce road mishaps. Even there are many hospitals without any trauma centre to attend accident victims. Highway patrolling should be done dedicatedly," said Prakash Mohapatra, Road Safety Expert.

Meanwhile, State Transport Minister Padmanabha Behera has informed that Odisha is currently in 12th place in road accidents and assured that the state government aims to reduce 50% accidents.

"Speed driving, using mobile phones while driving and drunken driving are the major reasons behind major of the accidents. We have intensified checking and we aim to reduce the accidents by 50%," said Behera. 

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