After the tragic death of his three-year-old son in a road accident, a telecom engineer from Faridabad, Manoj Kumar Wadhwa, was seen fixing potholes on the roads in his area on January 26.
Manoj took the matter in his hands after his son met with an accident due to pothole in 2014.
On February 10, 2014, Manoj, with his wife and son, Pavitra, was returning to his residence after attending a marriage function. On his way back, Manoj applied brakes of his vehicle when he came across a puddle on the Delhi-Agra highway but lost balance. His son fell on a sharp stone while another vehicle ran over his wife's legs. After this, the family was taken to a hospital where his son, Pavitra, was declared brought dead and his wife had to undergo 23 surgeries.
After the tragic loss of his son, Manoj realised that the roads in his locality were full of potholes. He started watching videos and tutorials uploaded by Pothole Raja from Bengaluru, to learn how to fill potholes.
After finalising a location, Manoj decided to fix the road using three bags of mixed bitumen and other items that were needed. His friends also joined him in cleaning the site and pouring cold-mix into the potholes.
Speaking to The Logical Indian, Manoj said, "We chose to fill potholes on Republic Day with a hope that this will give a wake-up call to government agencies. If a few of us can fill potholes, why can't government agencies and contractors do this small thing despite having all resources at their disposal? "
Manoj is currently fighting a case against the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and a private company, Larsen & Turbo, to find out the party responsible for fixing the potholes that led to his son's tragic death.
"Till now I am fighting for justice. It has been six years and my case is still pending. I decided to take the matter in my own hands. What about those who rely completely on the police or the authorities?" Manoj said.
"The practice of paying ₹ 4-5 lakh compensation for each death should stop. Will that amount compensate for the life of that individual?" Manoj asked.
Why Is The Case Still Pending?
Five years after the three-year-old Pavitra lost his life in a pothole-related accident on Delhi-Agra Highway, Faridabad Police charged the executives of Larsen & Turbo and Delhi-Agra Toll Road Private Ltd with negligence on their part.
After the accident, Manoj went to National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Haryana Government and Faridabad Police but received no help. He then filed a case in Punjab and Haryana High Court in September 2016. The hearings have been going on since then.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Faridabad police was handling the case since August and held the directors and project managers of the two companies responsible for the accident. The report was submitted in a local court through an affidavit, charging the accused under Section 173 of CrPC for causing grievous injuries, endangering life or personal safety and causing death due to negligence.
Manoj has been fighting the battle since 2014 and will continue to fight until all the agencies are held accountable for their negligence. He wrote letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari.
Manoj's Appeal To Authorities
"The fight is not just for my son. Why can't agencies take steps to avoid such tragedies? Why can't we have a protocol to identify and fill our potholes?" Manoj askd.
Pointing at Nitin Gadkari's comment on hefty fines for violating traffic rules, Manoj said, "People in India are not scared of fines. The idea to penalise Indians with steep fines is good to ensure their compliance with the rules."
Manoj Kumar Wadhwa urges that every individual should have the authority to report a pothole with adequate technology. Every citizen should be able to attach pictures, videos and demand action accordingly from those who are responsible for that particular area. A deadline should be given to the authorities to ensure timely action.
"If the potholes are not fixed in such a case, the responsible authority should be penalised and in case of a repeated offender, the individual should be put behind bars," Manoj said.
"When I fixed the pothole on January 26, I did not do it to get justice. I did it to send a message to authorities if they are unable to fix it with all the machinery, manpower and money, the common man will," Manoj said.