Killer Expressway: Accountability and transparency cannot be ignored
New Delhi: Even with high-tech systems in place to check and reduce the number of fatalities on the Yamuna Expressway, it has consistently seen an unusually large number of major accidents causing hundreds of casualties since it opened for commuters in August 2012.
Serious concerns of lack of accountability and transparency regarding the number of these fatal accidents remain ignored, in addition to the jurisdictional complications of local law enforcement agencies operating on the carriageway, resulting in lacklustre enforcement of traffic rules.
Every time an accident on the 165.5 km-long high-speed corridor results in casualties, the media extensively reports on the accident, and data is made available as to how many have lost their lives on the "killer expressway". In the same vein, there are efforts from concerned authorities to find out the cause of the accident and how to prevent another one.
However, the problem remains that there is still no data available in the public domain with regards to the total number of accidents on the e-way, where the accidents occur, and causes of the mishaps.
Whatever data is available in the public domain pertaining to this, has been made available after a query under the RTI has compelled authorities to release it.
Speaking to the Millennium Post, KC Jain, a road safety activist and Supreme Court lawyer by profession, said that it is crucial that such data on accidents is made available in the public domain. "As of now, authorities have failed to set up any such database that records when and why accidents occur on the e-way," he said.
He added that this task requires minimum resources, with a small team that can be deployed at accident sites to collect information on the cause, location, and the number of accidents.
"They can take photos, conduct their probe and maintain a record which should be in the public domain," Jain said.
This paper had earlier reported that authorities have not yet been able to set up the Road Accident Data Analysis and Management System (RADAMS), which has specifically been mandated under the Uttar Pradesh Road Safety Fund Rules of 2014.
Furthermore, with data showing that flagrant traffic rule violations on the expressway time and again, questions on accountability for fatalities remain unaddressed.
While data on rule violations are collected at the toll booth level by carriageway operators, the jurisdiction to prosecute them for the offence or issue challans lies with local law enforcement.
Now, given that law enforcement of six districts have divided the high-speed corridor between themselves, passing the buck becomes a common practice.
In addition, while carriageway operators claim that they cannot interfere with law enforcement jurisdiction, local law enforcement claims lack of resources.
Another road safety activist Raman said, "You cannot keep passing the buck to others. In my opinion, the onus should be on the authority that has commissioned the project in the first place."
He said that the authorities that plan and commission the project promise safe transit for the commuter.
"These authorities should be responsible and accountable for their promise of providing safe passageway," said Raman who is the only Agra-based member in the SC appointed committee on Environmental issues, MSW, drinking water and