Delhi: Accident Capital of India


LETHAL STRETCHES

10 Traffic Black Spots, Mostly Intersections, Have Claimed 17 Lives So Far

Megha Suri | TNN

This year may have recorded a decrease in the total number of persons killed on Delhi roads, but a handful of stretches around the city have been proving to be problematic for the traffic police as an alarming number of accidents are reported from there. Times City lists 10 intersections or black spots which have claimed the maximum number of lives in 2008.

PROBLEM AREAS
This year, the highest number of fatal accidents — as many as 17 — have been reported from ISBT Kashmere Gate, in which 17 persons died and 23 were injured till October 31 this year. Next on the list is Dhaula Kuan with 15 fatal accidents, opposite Hyatt on Ring Road (14), Shastri Park (12), Burari crossing (12), Ashram crossing (8), Raja Garden crossing (8), Punjabi Bagh crossing (8), Mukarba crossing (7) and Sarai Kale Khan (7).

CAUSES
Interestingly, a majority of these spots — 8 of 10 — fall on the Ring Road, most of which is nearly signal-free. The government, in the past few years, has been building flyover after flyover on the road and widening it to allow fast movement of vehicles. But in the absence of facilities like subways or foot overbridges for pedestrians, the artery has become highly unsafe for those crossing the road.
Another major reason for the accidents, according to the traffic police experts, is the high volume of trucks passing through these stretches at night. Often intoxicated, truck drivers have little knowledge of city traffic rules and tend to overspeed. There have been several instances where overworked truckers have been unable to stop the vehicle in time, leading to an accident.
A classification of the time of occurrence of the accidents also reveals that a majority have taken place between 2am and 6am, when the movement of trucks is very heavy. Little police presence and inadequate street lighting have aggravated the situation, making the stretch very lethal.

TOUGH SPOTS
Certain stretches like ISBT Kashmere Gate and Shastri Park have been notorious for accidents even in the past two years. The traffic police also claim to have initiated corrective measures, including construction of foot overbridges, but to little avail. The lack of pedestrian facilities at Dhaula Kuan since the construction of a grade separator has been raised numerous times. But the spot opposite the ISBT on NH-8 remains prone to accidents.

THE WAY AHEAD
Once the black spots have been identified, the job of the traffic police is to identify what is causing the accidents and take corrective measures. Said joint commissioner of police (traffic) SN Shrivastava: “It was noticed that heavy vehicles have been a major cause of accidents so we started night checking of these vehicles and have also started turning them away from the borders during the day when they are not supposed to enter the city. Police presence has been increased at night to instil a fear of prosecution, which was missing earlier.’’
The cops are also planning to start drives to educate pedestrians and continue the drive against jaywalking. Also, emphasis will be laid on prosecution of two-wheelers as they, along with pedestrians, form a majority of the victims of road deaths.

OVERALL SITUATION
In the past year, the focus has been on quality prosecution where motorists have been checked for violations — such as overspeeding, jumping red lights, drunken or dangerous driving — which can lead to accidents. Till October 31 this year, the cops have prosecuted 10.44 lakh motorists for such violations. The figure is much higher for 2007, when 6.40 lakh motorists were booked.
The effect of the strict action is visible as figures of the traffic police show a decline of 6.7% in the total fatal accidents with 1,711 persons being killed in accidents till October 31, 2008, as compared to 1,826 persons for the same period last year. The number of those injured has also fallen by 15% from 6,503 to 5,526. The ‘killer’ Bluelines have also been reigned in as they have caused 98 deaths this year, as against 131 in 2007.

new-picture-88
megha.suri@timesgroup.com

RTI: Even CIC helpless against PMO and Cabinet Secretariat


RTI in chains

RTI in chains

RTI

It is a sad reflection on the sincerity of the government of India towards transparency and good governance. What is worse even the PMO and Cabinet Secretariat are not above procrastination.

Politically sensitive information is impossible obtain- even when the query is from a reputable journal.

What can be the condition of an ordinary citizen?

The CIC also appears to be helpless to prod government agencies.

The following is an extract from Mail Today

RTI

Much to hide, more to gain

ABOUT a fortnight ago, a colleague of mine at India Today received an email from the Central Information Commissoner Wajahat Habibullah.

The brief it said — “ Received and being looked into” — took a long time coming. In November last year, following reports that several union ministers were not declaring their assets despite instructions from the PMO — nothing surprising, since I don’t expect ministers, especially those belonging to coalition partners, to take orders from the Prime Minister — India Today had invoked the RTI to find out the truth.

We filed RTI applications before the PMO and the Cabinet Secretariat seeking the relevant information. The reply from the PMO was swift but gave away nothing. It informed us that the information we sought lay within the domain of the Cabinet Secretary. A few days later, the Cab Sec wrote to us saying the domain lay with the PMO. For the next four months, we sent several reminders to both the PMO and the Cab Sec and the two kept lobbing the ball back and forth. So on March 17 this year, we wrote to the CIC detailing our experience with RTI and stating that by stonewalling our efforts, the PMO and Cab Sec were defeating the very purpose of the RTI. We requested the CIC to direct the officers in charge at South Block to make available the information we sought.

Around then, I ran into Habibullah at a social gathering and in the midst of informal exchanges reminded him about the RTI query. “ The matter is being looked into,” he assured me. Months passed and nothing happened. So two weeks ago, we sent an email reminder to the CIC. A day later came the above mentioned reply which certainly wasn’t very helpful anyway.

So much for transparency.

Things are no better in the states. Last week, I was in Kolkata where a top Opposition leader told me about an RTI query he had filed before the state Information Commission seeking details about the agreement the West Bengal government had signed with the Tata group for the now aborted Nano plant in Singur. That appeal too became a victim of sabotage as a senior officer in the state IC issued a writ that all information must be first delivered to him, in sealed envelopes!!!!! In May this year, at a function to mark the UPA Government’s four years in office, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh got so carried away with his regime’s record that he declared the UPA stood for open government: “ The UPA government has set a new standard for transparency and accountability in govern- ment”. He would have fooled none.

The RTI is supposed to enable ordinary Indians to seek information about the functioning of the government, its ministers and other minions.

But as the term of the government nears its end, the CIC which is supposed to address citizens’ queries on the government and governance seems to be abdicating its reponsibilities.

Of course you can get all the information you want about the truant District Magistrate in Barabanki or Jhumri Taliaya and similar small fry, but if you are looking for the big fish, you are likely to be denied.

The moral of the story: Transparency sounds a good idea but is not particularly popular with governments and IAS officers. One has much to hide, the other a lot to gain.