Too sore a cold
The winter smog that has been routinely engulfing national highways and city streets has also claimed an alarming number of lives, including five on the Yamuna Expressway, the high-speed corridor connecting Greater Noida to Agra. While the latest accident killed two general manager-level officers working with a public sector undertaking, previously, we had lost a deputy commissioner posted at South MCD. This, in addition, to over 50 people killed in various parts of North India, including 31 in Uttar Pradesh who have died of exposure to extreme cold. Foggy conditions are likely to prevail for a few more weeks now, and in fact, might intensify over the next few days. There are a number of measures that need to be taken urgently to minimise further damage and loss of life. Firstly, night shelters must be fully equipped with food, medicine and blankets to accommodate the homeless and pavement-dwellers, who most often become victims of accidents because of zero visibility conditions. Government-run night shelters, that can hardly be deemed hygienic and are hubs of diseases themselves, need significant improvement. Moreover, they are perpetually running with quantities far below the required stock of essential and live-saving medicines, often selling them on the sly in illegal markets. Periodic inspection might take care of this menace. In addition, better monitoring of traffic on the fog-smeared city and national highways is a must, as is obeying of traffic rules by everyone on the driver’s seat. More and brighter lighting facilities on these long, unmanned stretches of national highways and expressways are a must to improve visibility conditions. Vehicles without functional headlights, indicators and safety checks must be fined.