NEW DELHI: A pothole in Maharashtra’s Thane district recently claimed the life of a 21-year-old woman doctor grabbing the headlines and bringing the spotlight back on the 2,640 lives claimed on average in pothole related accidents during the past three years.
However, if one were to go by details collected from states, there were about 2,000 pothole-related deaths in 2018 as compared to 3,597 the previous year, with a comparative analysis among the major contributing states showing a sharp decline except in the case of Uttar Pradesh. While in UP, there were 1,043 deaths as compared to 987 in 2017, in Maharashtra, these reduced to only 166 from 726 in 2017 and in Gujarat only one death was reported in 2018 as compared to 228 during the previous year.
The overall 44% decline has evoked scepticism if road owning agencies have truly “stepped up” their drive against potholes to bring down fatalities. The high number of pothole-related deaths in 2017 had become a major issue for the states after the Supreme Court had pulled them up for the negligence and said that compensation should be paid to the family of every such victim. The SC had taken suo motu cognisance of a TOI report and asked the SC Committee on Road Safety to work out a strategy.
Sources said during a stock taking meeting following the direction from the apex court, some of the top officials from states had claimed before the SC panel that the number of deaths attributed to potholed roads were overplayed and police, in their reports, had not recorded the actual reason. The steep fall in such deaths may now come as a relief for the state governments.
Meanwhile, experts are also not sure if those responsible in road owning agencies have been held responsible considering the fact that the Indian Penal Code (IPC) does not have a specific provision to book anyone for fault in road or vehicle resulting in deaths. All sections relating road accidents – 337 (minor injuries), 338 (grievous injuries) and 304A (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) – deal with only rash and negligent driving.
“There is a need to amend the IPC to address this as it was done in the case of section-376 (relating rape cases) by adding subsections. Similarly, section-304A should have sub-sections to deal with deaths caused due to faulty road or vehicle,” said T Krishnaprasad, DGP and chairman of Telangana Road Safety Authority.
Date: November 06, 2019