Following the death of a doctor and injuries to his daughter and her cousin after a car in the convoy of Union HRD minister Smriti Irani rammed into his motorcycle, people living along the expressway between Delhi and Agra are again moving the court to intervene.
Irani’s car too was damaged in the pile up. The doctor’s family members have alleged that Irani did not help the accident victims, contradicting the minister.
“In the past two years, hundreds have lost their lives in fatal accidents on the Yamuna Expressway between Agra and Greater Noida. This is a major cause of worry. The concerned government departments have not shown a will to address the problem and ensure road safety,” said social activist Shrava Kumar Singh.
The Yamuna Expressway has been rechristened “Death Highway” by the locals due to the alarmingly high number of road mishap fatalities.
The Agra Development Foundation, a trust, had filed a public interest petition in the Allahabad High Court to force the authorities to implement a series of recommendations by experts. “Since its inauguration, there have been 2,194 accidents recorded on the expressway in around 1,000 days,” the foundation said.
The court had also asked the foundation to give its suggestions to the high-level state committee on expressway safety for implementation. But so far no action has been initiated by the government.
“We now have no option but to go back to the high court seeking clear directive to save lives and property,” K.C. Jain, president of the foundation, said.
According to information given by the Yamuna Expressway Authority through an RTI query, there were 319 deaths till July 15, 2015 on the expressway. The road was opened in August 2012.
Jain said “a road that should have been a source of comfort and convenience is throwing up a real frightening picture.” Despite many families having lost their dear ones, the expressway authority was not even imposing speed limits, Jain added.
Road safety experts say that most of the vehicles involved in accidents were found to be driving above the permissible speed limit of 100 kmph.
According to the expressway authority, there were 275 accidents in 2012, 896 in 2013, 771 in 2014 and 252 in 2015.
On Sunday, some activists and volunteers got together to organise a “road puja” saying the authorities had failed to take steps to prevent deaths. “When governments, official bodies and politicians do not listen, the only option remains is to appease the gods,” said Jugal Shrotriya, priest of Sri Mathuradheesh temple on the Yamuna river bank.