Over 10,000 Lives Were Claimed By Potholes In The Last Three Years, Across India
Potholes in India are emerging as one of the biggest killers. The story of potholes claiming lives is both alarming and sad. They have long provoked dark humour, manifesting in jokes, cartoons, songs and videos. But it no longer remains to be a matter of joke when people die or are maimed because of the manifestations of negligence on the part of those responsible for providing public service.
According to a report by The Times of India potholes in India have claimed a whopping 11,386 lives all over the country, in the past four years. This number translates to roughly seven deaths, each day, across the country.
Alarming numbers of fatalities
This data was compiled by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number of deaths due to potholes at 3,428, closely followed by Maharashtra at 1,410 deaths, followed by Madhya Pradesh (1,244) West Bengal (783), Bihar (659), Gujarat (597), Andhra Pradesh (497), Tamil Nadu (481) and Punjab (367).
The actual numbers might be far grimmer as many cases often go unreported and the ministry does not have a reliable database on accident related deaths. In 2013, the number was 2,607 which increased to 3,039 in 2014 and rose further to 3,416 in 2015. Their numbers dipped to 2,324 in 2016. Data on accidental deaths are reported by police headquarters of various states and union territories and big cities with population more than 10 lakhs.
A senior official in the Ministry of road transport and highways told The Times of India, “Some states recorded more deaths due to various reasons such as road length, vehicular population and rate of rainfall. States like Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Karnataka and West Bengal account for about 43% of the total length of the country.”
According to a report by India Today, maximum fatalities were reported in Maharashtra. Roads in rural areas are most prone to fatalities owing to their poor construction in comparison to the urban areas and cities. When it comes to the national capital, overloaded trucks entering Delhi cause the most damage to the footpaths and weaken the city roads as well.
Experts say that the number of road fatalities increases by 8% every year. Transport and traffic experts, however, have blamed the faulty road designs and the poor maintenance of roads in India. Road engineers, on the other hand, have said that the ill-conceived drainage system in the cities was responsible for potholes. It worsens during the monsoon season as the existing drainage system fails to contain the excess water flow and thus water stagnates on the roads resulting into potholes.
V.S. Suresh who handles motor vehicle accident cases, said government agencies are liable to pay compensation to the victims in case of accidental deaths caused by potholes. While poor maintenance by road-owning agencies is the main reason behind potholes contributing to crashes, experts say that there is a lack of uniformity and no standard design for speed breakers on most roads.
Rohit Baluja, a road safety expert told The Times of India, “Until road-owning agencies were held accountable for maintenance and booked for negligence, the menace of potholes won’t end. We have hardly any action taken against such negligent employees/officials.”
The Logical Indian take
Potholes are the lowly annoyance that cost billions of rupees to the government and causes vehicle damages. These cause loss of human lives and end up rendering many handicaps. For deaths caused by potholes, the government must hold contractors and ministers criminally liable for substandard roads. The Logical Indian community urges the government and the concerned authorities to look into the matter and ensure the roads are repaired and restored to good condition.