Pradeep Pattanayak

Given the spurt in road mishaps involving vehicles carrying picnickers, the Commerce and Transport Department of Odisha has issued standard operating procedures (SOPs) for vehicles going to picnic and tourist spots. 

As per the SOPs, the owners of buses and other vehicles hired for transporting people to tourist or picnic spots must have a special permit from the concerned RTO before engaging their vehicles for such trips. The concerned authority will permit those vehicles that have fitness certificates. 

Police personnel shall conduct thorough inspections of vehicles near the picnic spots and pilgrim places to identify and prevent the transportation of hazardous or dangerous or objectionable materials such as cooking gas, kerosene oil, crackers, etc.

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The Director General of Police will be requested to issue instructions to the district authorities to deploy police personnel near each picnic spot to carry out checks. 

The vehicles engaged in transporting tourists or picnickers should avoid overloading of passengers. The officers of the Transport and Police Department will carry out checks to find out if any vehicle is carrying more passengers than the permissible limits. 

If a driver of a vehicle transporting tourists or picnickers is found to be under the influence of alcohol, he will be immediately arrested and his driving license will be impounded. The owner will arrange an alternative driver for the continuation of the trip. 

Similarly, in case a driver is found driving without a driving license, the vehicle will be detained and the owner will arrange an alternative driver for continuation of the trip.

The vehicles must carry a First Aid Box with basic medical supplies to address injuries or health-related issues that may arise during the travel. Similarly, the vehicle owners shall put the name and contact number of at least one person from their group inside the vehicle to facilitate communication in case of emergencies.    

During long-distance journeys to picnic spots and pilgrimages, all HMVs shall have a designated driver assistant or helper to support the driver, especially during extended travel periods.

Notably, over 50 picnickers including several children suffered critical injuries in two separate road mishaps on Sunday. 
Over 10 picnickers were injured when the bus carrying 45 picnickers overturned at Balia Chhak under Purusottampur Police limits in Ganjam district on Sunday. In the second mishap, over 40 picnickers including several children were injured critically after the bus they were travelling in overturned at Taptapani ghat under Patapur Police limits of Ganjam district.

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