SC panel to review road safety status in Odisha on Sept 8

Bhubaneswar: Taking strong exception to the Odisha government ignoring its directive to conduct State Road Safety Council meetings twice a year, the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety has decided to conduct a review meeting on the status of road safety in the state on September 8.

In a damage control exercise after receiving a letter from the committee in this regard, the state government has sought detailed reports from all Regional Transport Officers (RTOs) in the state on the action taken against offenders under the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988.

In a letter to the principal secretary, State Commerce and Transport department on August 23, State Transport Commissioner Chandra Shekhar Kumar has informed about the disappointment of the Committee that the state government had not held the second meeting of the State Road Safety Council in 2015 and has made a case for the meeting of the Council to be held at least twice a year. The Transport Commissioner had earlier requested the concerned minister to fix a date for holding the next meeting of the Council.

The Transport Commissioner has also instructed the RTOs to strictly adhere to the guidelines of the apex court’s Road Safety Committee and suspend the driving license of a person for a minimum period of three months under section 19 of Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 if he/she is found driving at a speed exceeding the specified limit, jumping red lights, overloading goods carriages and carrying passengers in goods carriage, driving vehicle under the influence of liquor and using mobile phone while driving.

In a letter to all states and Union Territories on March 22 this year, the Road Safety Committee of the Supreme Court had said mere suspension of license and levy of fine are not adequate to reduce cases of drunken driving. “The Committee desires that in case of driving under the influence of drinks or drugs, police should in every case prosecute the offender and seek imprisonment and levy of fine as prescribed under Section 185 of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 and suspension of their license under Section 20 of the same Act”, the letter had pointed out.

The Committee had also viewed that wrong carriageway driving would come under dangerous driving under Section 184 of the MV Act. If circumstances warrant, it would also fall under Section 279 of the IPC. The police should prosecute the offender in every such case and seek maximum punishment as prescribed under the relevant provisions.

Talking to OTV today, Commerce and Transport minister Ramesh Chandra Majhi said the state government has convened a meeting of the Council in the first week of September.

Commenting on the action taken by the state government on road safety measures, Syed Maqbool Ali, former member of National Road Safety Council, said though the government had been issuing orders, hardly 20 percent of its order are implemented. “The implementation of the order should start at the grassroots level, which unfortunately, is not the case now,” he observed.

As per official records, more than 4000 people die in road accidents in Odisha every year. Despite a number of road safety awareness programmes taken up by the state government, the awareness level among the people is very low. On the other hand, the government has failed to rein in the offenders.