Where on one side most of the citizens are complaining about demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs1000 notes, they remain unaware of the grave crisis hovering in the state of Manipur. Life in Manipur has been paralysed as all the supply of essentials have stopped due to the blockade launched by United Naga Council (UNC) since October 31,2016. 150 loaded oil tankers have been stranded at Khatkhati in Assam since the drivers cannot enter Manipur. 1800 trucks loaded with goods and oil tankers have been stranded beyond Manipur’s border at Mao Gate. All business establishments, shops markets and entertainment houses have been affected due to this blockade.
There has been a heavy contention between United Naga Council (UNC), an organization of the Nagas in Manipur and the Manipur government. The UNC and the other Naga groups don’t want the Naga villages to be a part of the state and want to stay excluded. They have been saying that there are several Naga villages in Sardar hills region and these should be excluded from the state while there are activists in Jiribam, a sub division of Imphal east district, who are protesting against the government failure to create the new Jiribam district. The UNC has imposed a blockade on the assumption that Sardar hills and Jiribam sub divisions will be upgraded into districts. They have also announced that they will intensify the blockade as Manipur government may fulfill the demands of people for upgrading the two sub divisions into full fledged districts. The state police have been unable to bring the stranded trucks and oil tankers into the state in view of the “shortage of parliamentary personnel” to provide escort.
How life in Manipur has been affected
The supply of all the essentials has gravely affected life in Manipur. All the oil deposits have been closed . The petrol rate has risen to Rs200 per litre. Plying of all commercial vehicles, including school vehicles has also been stopped. The educational institutions remained closed. The supply of LPG has also stopped and LPF is now being sold at Rs 2000 in the black market. 200 oil tankers and hundreds of trucks carrying essentials were stranded on the national highways. The drivers are spending their days without any help on the national highways in Assam. Many of the drivers have called out to their families to help them as they have run out of money and they can not return home while abandoning the loaded trucks. There has been no official intervention to check this profiteering and exploitation .
Have you ever spotted a speeding car without a care for the traffic signal? Ever spotted a person rushing to the other side of the road when the traffic light is green? Ever seen bikers use pavements as roads to save a few minutes? Ever seen cars change lanes on highways or rush hour traffic on a whim? Well, so have thousands of other Indians.
Road safety in India is a serious concern. For a country that boasts the second largest road network in the world, it is inarguable that we need to pay more attention to our safety on roads – a place where we step out every day, spend a handsome amount of our time.
The government has come up with several regulations on road safety, but is this enough? Not if awareness around the topic is still lacking.
The intention behind the initiative is to bring together lawmakers, local authorities, traffic police and citizens under one umbrella.
The cities will be rated on parameters such as Pedestrian Rights, Road Lighting and Maintenance, Motor Laws and Traffic Control, Emergency Services, Road Cleanliness, Connectivity, Road Transport Infrastructure, Heavy Vehicle Traffic Management, Road Safety, Differently abled friendly, Road Quality and Road Safety For Children.
Here are the ten cities that were chosen for Road Safety Index 2018 and the reasons that make their roads safe or unsafe:
Mumbai has facilities for the differently-abled like reservations in public transports, special train compartments, concessions on fares, etc. The city that never sleeps scored the best when it comes to citizens’ participation in making the city accepting and warm toward the differently-abled. It won the category ‘Differently-Abled Friendly’.
However, there are areas of improvement – illegal hawkers, pavements and footpaths need to be fixed or reconstructed.
Anyone who hails from the capital of West Bengal knows about its recreational parks and brightly lit streets. Its traffic police deserve special mention for redirecting rush traffic every day as Kolkata roads are narrow and many are one-way streets.
During Durga Puja, the city tries to make Pandals differently-abled friendly by installing ramps.
It won the categories – ‘Road Lighting & Maintenance’ and ‘Road Safety For Children’.
But the City of Joy needs to work more on giving its residents #HappyRoads. Issues of waterlogging and numerous street hawkers, roadside vendors in busy areas need to be solved.
There’s no one who’s been to Delhi and not praised its excellent connectivity. Delhi prides itself for broad roads, top-notch metros, pavements and foot over bridges. The national capital surely serves as an example for cities across India when it comes to road connectivity hence, it won the categories ‘Connectivity’ and ‘Road Quality’ in the Road Safety Index.
While Delhi has made many of its public places differently-abled friendly, the areas that need improvement are long hours in traffic, fixing of roads that pose a hindrance to daily commute and rash driving by bikers.
The city boasts well-marked zebra crossings, adequate footpaths for pedestrians, underground SMART dustbins, reduced encroachments. Raipur fares well in almost all parameters of road safety. It won the category of ‘Road Safety’ and ‘Pedestrian Rights’.
However, the city could do better with stricter fines for traffic violators and awareness about road safety and garbage disposal.
Other cities can take inspiration from Chennai on how to ensure good road safety. The city has wide, well-connected roads that are lit properly. It also boasts rigorous night patrolling where traffic rules violators are fined. One of the best initiatives taken by Chennai is the separate parking space on city roads that prevent traffic from accumulating. It came out on top in the category ‘Motor Laws & Traffic Control’.
Areas where Chennai needs to improve are street lighting and cleanliness.
Indore is one of the few cities that has used plastic waste for construction of roads and covered garbage disposals, which explains why the city won the ‘Road Cleanliness’ category. Indore also has adequate zebra crossings, visual signals, street lights, footpaths.
But areas where the city needs improvement are – strict action against traffic violators, public spaces more differently-abled friendly.
There is a lot to learn from the road safety measures implemented by Ahmedabad – sound medical facilities, separate lanes for local buses, special cab service for differently-abled, wide roads. Ahmedabad won in the category ‘Emergency Services’, ‘Road Transport Infrastructure’ and ‘Heavy Vehicle Traffic Management’.
If the Heritage City improves road safety awareness among citizens, it’s bound to fare even better. Better street lighting and lesser encroachments will work in favour of Ahmedabad.
The other cities shortlisted were Pune, Bangalore and Hyderabad but they didn’t win any category.
Maruti Suzuki’s initiative to rank cities will encourage citizens and administration to do better and emerge on top.
The Logical Indian community wholeheartedly appreciates the various initiatives undertaken by Maruti-Suzuki in this direction. Not only the government but we, as citizens of this country, should also pledge to make our roads safe. One of the first steps towards this is that we understand our duties.
We hope the authorities take a note while we pledge to do our own bit towards happier, safer Indian roads.
For more information about the Maruti Suzuki’s initiative and the Road Safety Indexclick here.