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Mrunal Manmay Dash

Boudh: With more than 600 accidents in a span of just four years, the 150 km stretch of National Highway-57 through the district of Boudh has turned out to be a nightmare for commuters because of its narrow way, sharp turns, hilly terrain that has often led them to the death bed, instead of the planned destination.

Neither any MV Act nor any of the public awareness campaigns has done any good for the motorists who meet with horrifying accidents on the deadly highway more often than not.

The infamous highway has witnessed many untimely deaths owing to the accidents that had happened on that stretch over the years. The most high-profile of them being the case of the then district Agriculture Additional Director, Manoranjan Mallik who was on his way to Boudh on the fateful day of 24th January 2019 when the car he was travelling in crashed into a tree at Radhanagar square killing him and his associates on the spot. Not only him, the then Collector of Boudh, Ramakant Sethi also lost his life in a road mishap on August 26, 2019 on the same highway.

The district administration has marked the accident prone areas of the NH as the Black Spots to alert the motorists on the move, but so far it has turned out to be a blooper as the count of accidents kept piling up.

Expressing his deep concerns over the situation, Biswanath Mohapatra, a resident of Boudh said, “Drunken driving and riding without helmets seem to be the main cause behind these accidents. Though the RTO has tried many times to aware people on road safety but no one cares.”

“Another major reason could be the road engineering. The curvy roads with all blind spots on the highway also seem to causing discomfort for motorists,” added Biswanath.

Speaking to OTV, Boudh Superintendent of Police, Raghunath Rao said, “We have arrested 101 offenders on charges of drunken driving and forwarded them to the court in last two months. We are conducting routine awareness programmes in the district and hope to reduce the accident count soon.”

On the recent announcement by Odisha Transport department to install CCTV cameras to keep a tab on the offending motorists on the national highway stretch from Khurda to Chandikhol, concerned locals of Boudh have also demanded the authorities to set up such an Integrated Highway Management System.

State Transport Minister Padmanabh Behera has assured that he will personally devise and supervise plan in collaboration with Works Department to curb the accidents and ensure that no more life is lost there.

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