“Potholes Killing More Than Terrorism, It Is Frightening” : SC

“Potholes Killing More Than Terrorism, It Is Frightening” : SC

The bench noted that potholes killed 3,597 persons in 2017 but was surprised that states were disputing the figures

 A bench of justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta today questioned why states were disputing the centre’s figure that potholes claimed 3,597 lives last year and were not willing to take remedial measures to save precious lives.

“It is unfortunate that some states were disputing the data published by the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highway (MoRTH) under the Central government on the ground that the figures were not verified by the transport departments of the respective states”, said the bench.

The court noted in the order that it had earlier observed that “the number of deaths in road accidents was more than the fatalities caused by terrorist attacks in India and the situation was frightening”.

In July, the apex court had taken cognizance of reports quoting official data showing that pothole-related accidents had claimed 3,597 lives in 2017, compared to 803 in all terror and extremist attacks that year.

The bench said it was also surprising that some states have said at a recent meeting convened by the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety, headed by former top court judge Justice K S Radhakrishnan, that the funds allocated to them for maintenance of roads were inadequate.

It observed that since the states were constructing the roads, they were also obliged to maintain them.

“How can the states say that they cannot maintain the roads? Why states are giving money to the contractors for roads if they have no money to maintain the roads? Will they demolish all the roads”, the bench said.

“What are the states doing”, it asked the counsel appearing for the ministry, while referring to the submissions by the states at the meeting about the data on deaths in accidents caused by potholes.

“Who is to maintain the roads? Are the people supposed to maintain them”, the bench asked.

Advocate Gaurav Agrawal, assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the road safety matter, said the authorities do not see the underlining problem and no policy was discussed at the meeting on how to repair the potholes.