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Since 1st March, 1999
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Cops rue lack of breathalysers

Shillong, June 4: Lack of equipment to test the alcohol consumption of drivers has hampered Meghalaya police in their efforts to prevent deaths because of road accidents.

Drink driving continues to claim many lives in Meghalaya, as the police are unable to check the menace and only take the accused to the hospitals for testing after the accident takes place.

However, by the time the accused reaches the hospital, the test is not very effective, a police official said.

The official admitted that the breathalysers purchased several years ago are not functioning.

A number of accidents because of drink driving was reported in parts of Shillong recently.

On Saturday night, a family of three from Shillong, including a two-year-old girl, who were travelling in a bike, were killed at Barik point here after a truck rammed into the bike.

The police later arrested the truck driver, Phidalis Rymbai from Jaintia Hills, who was completely drunk.

Only a six-year-old child is left of the family, as both the father and mother were killed.

A day earlier, S.K. Basumatary, the driver of an army school bus carrying 30 students, dashed against an empty truck at Mawblei here.

In this case, too, the driver was drunk, according to the police. However, the students escaped unhurt.

The case was referred to military police for action.

Several bikers had also been killed in the past in Shillong, hit by trucks.

Transport minister A.T. Mondal today said instructions had been issued to carry out surprise checks of vehicles in certain vulnerable areas to arrest the trend.

Lack of proper punishment and imposition of fines for drink driving is another factor, which results in drivers taking the issue lightly.

“It is a cause of worry and during the last review meeting with the transport department, I have asked the officials to buy new breathalysers,” Mondal said.

According to Mondal, there is an urgent need to address the issue of drink driving through awareness campaigns.

The matter had figured in the last Assembly session in March and some legislators have even suggested the need to close down the highway liquor shops.