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NH-33 ‘death trap’ claims 7, trauma care missing

Seven persons, including an eight-year-old boy, were killed when the SUV they were travelling in collided head-on with a speeding private bus at Mardhan Chowk on NH-33 on Friday afternoon.

The accident in Tamar, which is 70km from Ranchi and 55km from Jamshedpur, is the third mishap since March this year. And it has once again exposed the peril of not having a trauma centre on a 135km highway stretch that is labelled death trap by police.

According to Tamar thana in-charge Ram Vijay Singh, the SUV was on its way to the steel city from the capital.

Driver Billa Kumar Patel (32) and his brother-in-law Jabbar Kumar (35), both residents of Munger in Bihar, were in the front seat. They had picked up five passengers from villages of Tamar.

While the SUV was crossing Mardhan Chowk around 1.30pm, a bus came hurtling from the opposite direction and crashed into it.

Patel, Kumar and the others — later identified as Chandan Kumar (8), his mother Nita Devi (40), Shankar Kumar Mahto (18), Rasna Devi (50) and Parvati Devi (60) — died on the spot of critical head and chest injuries.

Half a dozen passengers of the bus sustained minor injuries. They were released after first aid at the government hospital in Bundu.

Tamar police have seized the bus, while the driver escaped. Traffic remained paralysed on NH-33 for an hour.

In January, three members of a family had died on this very stretch. Last month, six were grievously injured.

It is ironic that the Ranchi-Jamshedpur length of the highway that will be widened into four lanes by June 2015 has never been considered for a trauma care centre.

In fact, when Union road transport and highways minister C.P. Joshi laid the foundation stone of the four-lane project on April 3, he promised cash-less insurance policy for accident victims, but no heal hub to cushion casualties.

Most bizarrely, the health department has come up with two trauma centres in areas that are not very prone to accidents. One is at Baharagora in East Singhbhum and the other at Nagar Utari in Garhwa, close to NH-75.

However, neither of the existing trauma clinics are operational. “At Baharagora, posts need to be created. But, I cannot say when that will happen. For Nagar Utari, posts have been created for an orthopaedic surgeon and paramedical staff. The same will be notified after an approval from the cabinet,” said a health official.

Two more trauma centres have been envisioned for Hazaribagh Sadar Hospital and Patliputra Medical College and Hospital in Dhanbad.

Confirming that the department had no proposal for trauma care on the mishap magnet stretch of NH-33, the health official added: “It is lack of political will. Unless pressure is mounted (on the department), nothing will happen. Everyone knows the stretch is highly prone to fatal accidents, but no action is taken.”

While the principal secretary (health) K. Vidyasagar was not available for his comment, deputy secretary Rajesh Kumar Verma refused to talk to the media on the issue.