Assam: 9 headed to Chhath Puja procession killed in Karimganj accident

Guwahati: The Assam Transport Department has started a special drive across the state to enforce various safety regulations to prevent accidents in and around the New Year celebrations, a senior official said on Wednesday.

Assam has already witnessed more than 6,800 accidents, in which more than 2,800 people have lost their lives in 2021. This has forced the state administration to vow to have accident-free celebrations on December 31.

“Most of the accidents take place due to high speeding and drink-and-drive. The fatalities are mostly among the people of 15-40 years of age and 48 per cent of them are due to not wearing helmets,” Assam Transport Department Assistant Commissioner Gautam Das told PTI.

In order to have a safe and accident-free New Year this time, the Transport Department, along with Assam Police, has initiated a special exercise to create awareness as well as penalise the violators that will continue till January 1 morning, he added.

“We have already made helmets compulsory for both the riders from this month. For drink-and-drive, we are imposing a fine of Rs 10,000 along with suspension of the licence and arrest of the person,” Das said.

Each district has formed special teams of enforcement officials for inspection at various points and they are equipped with breath analysers with disposable pipes and other devices, he added.

“We have imposed a speed limit of 60 km per hour for December 31 across the state irrespective of the roads like highways. I appeal to all not to drink and drive as this is the winter season with heavy fog at several locations. Have a slow and steady drive,” he said.

Das, who is also the District Transport Officer of Kamrup Metropolitan comprising mostly the Guwahati city, said seven enforcement teams have been formed to enforce the rules in the state capital.

According to Assam Transport Department data, 29 lives were lost in 69 accidents on December 31, 2020, and January 1 this year.

In 2020, 6,593 accidents took place in Assam and 2,629 people lost their lives in those incidents. Of these, 215 persons died in 699 accidents in Guwahati alone.

As per Transport Department figures, the state has seen 23,191 road accidents in the last three years from 2018 to 2020, taking the lives of 8,803 people in those cases and 56 per cent of the death victims were in the age group of 18-35 years age.

Of all these accidents, 6,149 cases involved two-wheelers. Noticeable point is that about 75 per cent of the road accidents have happened due to over-speeding, an official note of the department said.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has recently announced that he has resolved not to allow any person to die in an accident during the New Year celebrations this year.

Taking a serious note on drink-and-drive cases and the consequent casualties, Sarma on December 24 held a video conference with Deputy Commissioners, Superintendents of Police, DTOs, Superintendents of Excise of all districts and asked them to put a spanner on drink-and-drive phenomenon.

He asked them to generate adequate awareness through publicity to avoid any kind of rash driving that may be undertaken under the influences of alcohol. The chief minister has already rolled out a multimedia awareness campaign featuring himself with an appeal to the people to follow all the safety norms.

He also asked the DCs to undertake visits to district civil hospitals and medical college hospitals, especially on the night of December 31, and ensure availability of doctors and immediate medical intervention to the victims of road accidents.

Moreover, the Joint Directors of Health Services were advised to make ambulances ready to meet any emergency by the chief minister.

According to official sources, 48 per cent of the accidents take place on the national highways, mainly due to faulty road engineering and absence of signages.

“There are too many potholes and these are hardly repaired. There are no proper crash barriers and no reflective markings on the highways. Also, there are not too many trauma centres along the highway to treat accident victims,” they added.

Taking cognizance of the road conditions, Patowary has asked NHAI, NHIDCL and state PWD to take proper steps and corrective measures in respect of damaged signage, potholes, crash guards and rumble strips within February 15, 2022.

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