Malda, July 20: The killer combination of blinding rain and rash driving on a bad, bumpy road has been blamed for the bus accident that claimed 36 lives yesterday.
Preliminary investigations into the cause of the mishap at Lakshmipur, 5 km from Malda town, revealed that the driver lost control of the bus while trying to overtake a maxi-taxi.
“The bus was racing at around 70 kmph when the accident occurred. He lost control on encountering a mud patch while trying to overtake a maxi-taxi. The bus skidded when it got back to the pucca road and rolled into a pond,” an investigator said.
The driver today surrendered before police. The bus, which was towed to Englishbazar police station, is being checked for defects that could have led to the tragedy. Water of the pond into which it fell was pumped out to check if there were more bodies.
The district bus and mini-bus owners’ association, too, blamed the two factors for the mishap. Secretary of the organisation Kajal Roy said the condition of 90 per cent of the roads in the district is poor. “The stretch near Lakshmipur is full of potholes. The driver was also at fault. It is tough to control vehicles at high speed on such roads,” Roy said.
The Malda administration came under fire for issuing permits to too many maxi-taxis and allowing unlicensed trekkers and maxi-taxis to ply. “The rule prohibits trekkers from using state and national highways. But they are all over the district. There is even a trekker stand on the flyover in the town,” Roy alleged. More than 800 trekkers and 600 maxi-taxis run in the district.