Jajpur: Plying of overloaded cargo vehicles without proper fitness certificates are the main reason for accidents on national highways in Odisha leading to loss of lives and properties, a report said. An accident between an ambulance and a truck overloaded with cement on National Highway-16, April 30 this year resulted in the death of three persons highlights this issue. The accident was initially termed ‘routine’ on the highway. However, probe into the matter revealed harsh facts.
According to information obtained under Right to Information Act (RTI) by social activist Sarbeshwar Behura, the IIC of Barchana police station in a letter to the regional transport officer (RTO), Chandikhole has stated that overloading of the truck is the main reason behind the mishap.
The 12-wheeler truck which is around 13 years old did not have a fitness certificate. It was being used to transport 31 tonne of cement instead of its usual capacity of 25 tonne. Behura alleged that the ‘Ramco’ cement company using the truck has been able to fend off public hearing and managed to obtain environmental clearance by assuring to transport raw materials and its finished product by rail instead of roads. However, despite its promise the company was transporting its finished product on road at night. Behera stated that the matter should be probed and Ramco should be held indirectly responsible for the accident.
According to Barchana IIC, the mishap occurred when a Cuttack bound 108- ambulance (OD-02BN-5325) from Balasore with three occupants rammed against the overloaded cement truck parked on the opposite side of the road. The accident occurred as the truck had not switched the ‘hazard’ lights which vehicles usually do when they park on national highways. So the driver of the ambulance failed to notice it.
As a result, Geetanjali Pradhan, 40, a patient from Bhogarai, driver Bhaskar Chandra Sahu and hospital staff Hemant Kumar Badi died on the spot. Behura has demanded stringent action against the erring company and also the transport company which owns the truck. Reports said that truck driver had parked the vehicle on the highway due to the deflation of the front tire.
Experts later pointed out that the front tire suffered damages due to overloading. Police probe later revealed that the truck loaded with 620 packets of cement had two invoices of two different vehicles. This was done to evade taxes. Junior MVI Biswaranjan Sahu of Chandikhole RTO has been slapped with a fine of Rs 60,940 for illegal overloading of the truck.
However, it is a case of too little being done to prevent the loss of lives on national highways. It has been alleged that these facts emerged only because of the accident. In one invoice it was shown that 25 metric tonne of cement was being transported in 500 packets while the second one was that of unknown vehicle with a different registration number transporting six tonne of cement in 120 packets.
Sources alleged that Ramco has been carrying on this blatant violation for a long time now. It should also be stated here that despite the ongoing probe, the seized truck has been released. Sources said that this may lead to destruction of evidence. They also pointed out that the license of the transport company which owns the truck is yet to be revoked.