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Bars open, mishaps go up

- Cops fail to curb drink driving

Dec. 18: City traffic police’s drive against drink driving has hardly made any difference on the streets as the city has reported increase in number of road mishaps after reopening of liquor shops and bars, compared to the 15 days when liquor shops and bars remained closed.

All the 303 liquor shops and bars in Kamrup (metro) district were asked to shut down following the August 9 order of Gauhati High Court, asking the district administration to close down liquor shops and bars situated within a 500-metre radius of educational and religious institutions, hospitals and dispensaries and courts.

The bars and liquor shops remained totally closed from August 9-24. During these 15 days, an interesting fact came to light — the number of road mishaps came down, indicating that drink driving was a reason behind accidents on the streets. However, the number of road accidents again went up after the court on August 24 modified its interim order and allowed 201 liquor shops and 26 bars to reopen.

According to statistics available with 108 Mrityunjoy ambulance services, the city had reported 14 road mishaps between August 9 and 24 which went up to 21 in the next 15 days (August 24 to September 9). On September 18, the high court further modified its order and allowed bars and liquor shops, which had received their licences on or before March 18, 2005, to reopen. The order resulted in reopening of all the bars and 290 liquor shops.

Between September 25 and October 10, city streets reported 19 accidents, indicating that drink driving was responsible for the increase.

“The number of road accidents during this period will be more as many people do not report to us and are taken to private hospitals. Analysis of the accident data revealed that the number of accidents came down when liquor shops and bars remained closed and again increased when those were reopened,” said a source in the 108 ambulance services.

The data angered city residents, with many questioning traffic police’s role in checking drink driving. “This shows that our traffic cops have failed to take action against those riding motorcycles and driving cars in inebriated condition. As police often claim that they were using breath analysers to catch the culprits, we have not seen a continuous drive against drink driving on our streets,” said Ashim Mondal, a resident of Ulubari. A senior traffic police officer said they were carrying out joint drives with the transport department, particularly during Holi, Diwali and New Year-eve parties.