ACCIDENT WATCH: 25 puja shoppers hurt as bus topples on bumpy NH – on the heads of conscienceless Bengal ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, Oct. 3: Around 25 people, mostly puja shoppers, were injured when the bus they were travelling in turned turtle on the damaged NH31D near Jalpaiguri town today, highlighting once again the risks involved in travelling on Dooars roads.
The private bus bound for Jalpaiguri from Banarhat was carrying more than 40 passengers. Seven of the injured were admitted to the Jalpaiguri District Hospital, police said.
Today’s was the third accident on potholed highways in the past one month. On September 9, Class X student Kaushik Tamang of Odlabari, travelling in an auto-rickshaw to his school, was killed when the vehicle fell on its side on NH31. Twenty-two others were hurt in the accident. Two days before, a Guwahati-bound bus fell into a ditch to avoid a deep pothole on NH31C near Jaigaon, killing one passenger and injuring 11 others.
Transport owners blamed the administration’s alleged apathy to repair the damaged road for today’s mishap. Union forest and environment minister Jairam Ramesh, who had expressed dismay over the condition of the roads during his visit to the region last week, said he would put a word to his counterpart in the Union surface transport ministry to repair the roads.
Around 10am today, the driver of the bus, while trying to avoid another bus from the opposite direction, lost control over the vehicle at Domohini More on the outskirts of Jalpaiguri. “The driver has fled but the vehicle has been seized,” an officer of Mainaguri police station said. The spot is about 55km from Siliguri.
Monica Karmakar, a resident of Mainaguri who was one of the injured, said the bus was going at a normal speed. But ahead of the Teesta Bridge, the driver lost control and the bus veered off the road and turned turtle on a low land beside the highway.
Karmakar who was sitting on the front seat of the vehicle added: “As Durga Puja is approaching and today is a Sunday, I decided to go for shopping. But my plans were spoiled because of the damaged road.”
Most of the passengers in the bus were from the Dooars and were going to Jalpaiguri for puja shopping.
After the mishap, the local people and a fire engine from Jalpaiguri rescued the passengers and took them to hospital, about 10km from the spot.
Rajat Bhattacharya, a doctor at the district hospital, said most of the seven patients had injuries on legs and fractured their hands. “We have referred Aliul Haque, a passenger with serious injury on his right leg, to the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital.”
Other injured passengers were released after first aid.
The North Bengal Passengers’ Transport Owners’ Coordination Committee, which had observed a 20-day-long strike from August 31 protesting bad roads, said the government did precious little to repair the roads.
“We had later decided to run the buses after the administration assured us that roads would be repaired by the first week of October. But it is once again apparent today that no serious efforts have been taken by the government to repair the damaged roads,” said Pranab Mani, the committee secretary.
Officials of the National Highways Authority of India, however, said work on different stretches of highways was already on.
“The repairing of road is going on presently between Fatapukur and Siliguri, Ghoshpukur and Bagdogra and Mainaguri and Jalpaiguri, at a cost of Rs 15 crore,” an NHAI official said today.
Car falls in gorge, four killed – a punishment from God for the acute gas shortage in the hills ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, Oct. 3: A senior official of the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited and three others were killed when the vehicle they were travelling in fell into a gorge 500ft below the road near Kurseong this evening.
Police identified the body of HPCL official K.R. Srinivasan and suspect that the three other who died were his family members and the driver.
Darjeeling police chief D.P. Singh said the four were returning to Siliguri from Darjeeling through Pankhabari road this evening in a Tata Indica. “At Schooldara, located between Kurseong and Garidhura, the vehicle went off the road while probably negotiating a turn and hurtled into a 500ft deep gorge.”
After the mishap, which occurred about 30km away from here, the vehicle (WB-74C-3917) was found hanging from a cliff. Personnel from the Garidura police putpost retrieved the vehicle with a crane.
“From the papers found on the bodies we identified K.R. Srinivasan, 50. He was an executive manager of the HPCL’s LPG plant in Purnea,” the police chief said. “We could not identify the rest, who appeared to be his family members and the driver.”
Srinivasan had come to Siliguri yesterday with his family and hired the vehicle to go to Darjeeling. They were supposed to return to Purnea today.