Death of 19 people in road accident: Chhattisgarh High Court asks state govt, NHAI for affidavit detailing their measures to prevent such tragedies

Bilaspur, [Date] – The Chhattisgarh High Court has taken cognizance of a public interest litigation (PIL) concerning the death of 19 people in a devastating road accident in Kawardha district. The Division Bench, led by Chief Justice Ramesh Sinha, has directed all involved parties, including the state government and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), to submit affidavits detailing their measures to prevent such tragedies. The next hearing is scheduled for June 26.

Incident Overview

On May 20, a severe accident occurred near Bahapani in the Kukdoor police station area of Kawardha district. A speeding, out-of-control pickup truck overturned and fell into a ditch, resulting in the immediate death of 15 people. Four more succumbed to their injuries during treatment, and ten injured individuals are currently hospitalized.

Court’s Directives

During Friday’s hearing, Chief Justice Ramesh Sinha remarked on the gravity of the incident involving an overloaded pickup. The court has requested affidavits from the state government, NHAI, the transport department, and the collector, outlining preventive measures they can implement.

Additionally, the Division Bench has asked for a report on actions taken in line with the Supreme Court’s guidelines on road safety. These guidelines are part of a national effort to curb the rising number of road accidents.

Supreme Court Guidelines

The Supreme Court has mandated the creation of road safety cells to prevent accidents nationwide, requiring committees at central, state, and district levels. The court highlighted the high number of fatalities and serious injuries resulting from road accidents, prompting various states to form road safety committees with differing operations.

Uniform Safety Measures

To ensure uniformity and effective accident prevention measures, the Supreme Court has emphasized the need for consistent road safety committees in every district. These committees will review accidents, implement preventive measures, and report to state and central governments. They will also release public reports on accidents and develop detailed plans to address high-incident areas, monitored at both state and central levels.

Committee Composition and Responsibilities

The road safety committee will be chaired by the Collector and include the Superintendent of Police, the district transport officer, the medical and health officer, and representatives from the public works department and highway ministry. For urban areas, the executive officer of the municipality will also be a member, along with representatives from NGOs.

According to the order, the Collector must conduct an online committee meeting every 15 days and a direct meeting every month to discuss all road accidents that occurred in the district. Forensic investigations will be arranged for major accidents. Meeting details and preventive measures will be uploaded on a public online portal and sent to the Ministry of Road Transport.

The Chhattisgarh High Court’s proactive stance underscores the urgency of addressing road safety and preventing further loss of life on the state’s highways.

Manish Tiwari

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