death trap: A biker rides along Kalimati Road sandwiched between a stationary trailer and moving trucks on Friday, while (above) private cars encroach upon Bistupur Main Road. Pictures by Animesh Sengupta
Blood is spilling on the city’s roads like never before, with two fatal accidents in 72 hours and 120 deaths since January.
But, besides old culprits like lust for speed and blatant disregard for safety rules, unauthorised parking on arterial roads is a dominating — yet conveniently overlooked — reason behind the high mishap count.
On Thursday, 27-year-old Birsanagar resident Deepak Kumar Gaur lost his life on the Bhuiyandih-Agrico Road, when a cement truck crushed his bike on his way home from work. On October 30, Class VII student Rahul Kumar too was killed on the spot when a dumper knocked him off his bicycle on Jemco-Telco Road.
Eyewitnesses in both cases said the speeding vehicles (truck and dumper) were finding it difficult to negotiate the two stretches of roads narrowed by illegal parking. The 16ft wide Bhuiyandih road shrinks to just 10ft because of cars, trucks and trailers parked along its side, while the 15ft Jemco road is squeezed to 9ft because of similar encroachment.
The glaring similarity is, unfortunately, not limited to just these two roads. Thoroughfares like Bistupur Main Road and Kalimati Road, connecting Sakchi to Burmamines, are peril zones too because of unauthorised parking. Road space is reduced by almost 6ft, leaving only 14ft for passing vehicles on Bistupur Main Road and 12ft on Kalimati Road.
According to experts, any encroachment on the side of a road — rows of illegally parked cars and trucks in this case — can distract a driver and lead to accidents, which needs no corroboration in Jamshedpur.
The steel city, which saw 108 deaths in 170 accidents in 2011, has witnessed the toll climb by 12 (till date) and number of mishaps by 30 this year. Scarily, most involve bikes and trucks/trailers/dumpers/buses, with the two-wheelers understandably being at the receiving end.
What is perhaps more concerning is that little is being done to check accidents.
DSP (traffic) Rakesh Mohan Sinha admitted that illegal parking was one of the key reasons behind fatal mishaps, but insisted that they did conduct raids against such encroachment and slap fines on the spot.
But then, why does the situation not change?
“People are careless too. They ride bikes without helmets and speed when and where they are not supposed to,” Sinha contended.
He also claimed that the extent of action taken against rogue parking, helmet-less riding and triple-riding was such that the penalty amount touched Rs 6.44 lakh in October alone.
Laying constraints of the department threadbare, the DSP said there were only 125 constables and havildars to man over 500,000 vehicles every day. “Besides, we have no speed guns and only breathalysers,” he added.
When police are handicapped and the administration doesn’t care, citizens alone have to play a deadly game of survival.
“I never drive through Bhuiyandih-Agrico Road. Sometimes, I avoid Kalimati Road too. The roads are always congested because of stationary trucks and trailers along their sides. You can almost anticipate an accident if you look at such perilous parking,” said Sudhansu Shekhar, a resident of Sonari.
Are parking rogues taken to task by traffic police?