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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: When the new MVA act has put the glare on accidents caused by human error, the shocker is nonchalant attitude of government-owned road utilities (Odisha Works department, Municipal and National Highway Authorities) killed nearly 3 lives every day in 2018.

Poor road features account for 19 per cent of road fatalities in Odisha.

As per the data on road accidents in Odisha, a whopping 1046  lives were lost in the State for the cause of potholes and faulty road designs. It has also been observed that almost 90 per cent of deaths due to faulty road designs occurred in the monsoon months and also during nights hours in Odisha.

When potholes killed 35 in 2018, steep grade roads proved killer for another 97, ongoing roadworks/roads under construction abruptly ended lives of 197 persons and other design faults killed 827.

It needs to be reminded that Odisha had recorded a high of around 208 pothole accident deaths and 397 injuries in 2016.

Not only fatalities, Odisha had witnessed 88 pothole accidents last year that resulted in 85 injuries. And underconstruction roads burdened grave injuries to another 222 persons. Other faulty road designs grievously injured a massive 1,033 persons.

An analysis of the State police data further shows that the fatality rate in pothole accidents ranges from around 34 per 100 accidents in 2015 to 92 per 100 accidents in 2016 and around 48 per 100 accidents in 2017, respectively.

Also, the analysis didn’t reveal any wide gap in deaths in the urban-rural milieu. Fatalities owing to faulty road designs and potholes have been reported uniformly from all districts and regions.

A glance at road-wise deaths reveals that around 85 per cent deaths have taken on municipal roads or roads of Panchayati Raj Department or Rural Development Department. This reveals the pathetic work culture of the local administration in Odisha.

Experts observed that civic authorities or Panchayati Raj Department should strictly ensure in the contracts itself that contractors ought to fill the potholes during the maintenance period, and the State Government should also specify the amount it allocates per year for filling potholes so as to keep the road stretch in traffic worthy condition.

Even, taking serious note of deaths due to potholes and faulty roads across the country, the Supreme Court last year had asked its Committee on Road Safety to delve into the issue at the earliest and submit a report on the whole gamut, including quantum of compensation to be paid to such mishap victims.

At present, compensation is paid to the victims in accordance with the provisions of Chapter X and XI of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, which is paid by the Insurance Company from the regular premiums paid for the motor insurance policy cover taken by the motor vehicle owner. Govt road utilities didn't pay a single penny.

 

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