Bengaluru's killer potholes and absurd laws: Civic officials cannot go scot-free anymore

Thursday's accident in which a woman died shows the abysmal failure of civic agencies
Bengaluru's killer potholes and absurd laws: Civic officials cannot go scot-free anymore
Bengaluru's killer potholes and absurd laws: Civic officials cannot go scot-free anymore

If Bengaluru authorities are to be taken seriously, then all of us driving on the city's roads should have enough maneuvering skills to deal with the gaping potholes in the city, or we could be booked for negligent driving. 

25-year old Stuti Pandey, died last week after she fell on the 4 metre long pothole near the Devarabeesanahalli flyover on Outer Ring road. On Thursday, the scooter Stuti was riding pillion on with her husband skid on the pothole, hurtling her to the ground. Her lungs crushed, her injury so grievous that she died within one hour of the accident.

The fact remains that Stuti may have lived if not for the potholes that are a regular feature on most Bengaluru roads, but that didn't stop authorities form booking a case of death due to negligence on her husband Om Prakash.

Police ignores the gaping pothole, books husband for negligent driving.

The police booked a case on Om Prakash, the husband of 25-year old Stuti Pandey, who died after she fell on the 4 metre long pothole near the flyover.

Om Prakash told The New Indian Express: “I was riding the vehicle at normal speed. When I tried to avoid the pothole I lost control over the vehicle. I am shocked that the police have booked me for negligent driving. I am on my way to my native Satna district to perform the last rites of my wife.” 

For a moment, let's think that Om Prakash is lying, that eyewitnesses to the incident who blamed it on the pothole were also lying, still what about the abysmal failure of our civic agencies?

Abbas, a shopkeeper in the area said, "This is not the only case. There have been many accidents in the spot before this."

Under pressure and following public outcry, police officers have grudgingly told the media that notices have also been sent to civic authorities, though this remains unconfirmed.

And as usual, the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) have washed their hands off, refusing to take responsibility for the maintenance of that road. The BBMP told that it was BDA’s job as the flyover was the responsibility of the BDA, and the BDA said that maintenance was BBMP’s job.

Manjunath Reddy, the BBMP Mayor said, “The road is next to the flyover that comes under BDA. BDA has not handed over the road to BBMP as yet.”

“The BBMP has asked the BDA to hand-over the road after they have repaired it. Until the investigation on the case is over, neither of the civic agencies should be blamed.” He said.

Section 266 of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act states that the corporation has to maintain and repair public streets “which are necessary or expedient for the public safety or convenience.”Though such provisions have been mentioned in the above Act or the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewage Act, 1964, they do not provide for any liability on the public bodies if they do not carry out their duties. 

Two days after the BBMP claimed to have repaired the road with gravel and cement, the pothole seems to have re-appeared, and this time it is even wider. 
The civic officials are now blaming it on the afternoon rain on Saturday

As long as the police and authorities are allowed to easily shift the blame to people like Om Prakash, we will all remain as vulnerable as ever. 

Last year, the Supreme Court asked the Law Commission to look into the need for a comprehensive legislation to fix tort liability on government authorities and determine the compensation in cases of accidents or deaths caused due to negligence.

Perhaps it is time to teak the law and make authorities liable, even criminally liable for such colossal failures?


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