VOICES JUG SURAIYA S VAIDHYASUBRAMANIAM LT GEN (RETD) SYED ATA HASNAIN RAVI SHANKAR GAUTAM CHINTAMANI MATA AMRITANANDAMAYI THE NEW SUNDAY EXPRESS MAGAZINE BUFFET PEOPLE WELLNESS BOOKS FOOD ART & CULTURE ENTERTAINMENT JULY 21 2019 SUNDAY PAGES 12 Highway to Hell 938 deaths in 5,749 accidents have been reported till July 8 on the Expressway since its inauguration in August 2012 (Average 2 accidents per day or about 782 per year). Between 2012 and 2017, a total of 2,30,46,542 overspeeding cases were recorded on camera at toll gates. Of these, Jewar saw the maximum number at 1,07,00,438, while Mathura and Agra registered 70,13,532 and 53,32,572 vehicles respectively. In 2017, a total of 4,64,910 road accidents were recorded in the country. Of these, 1,41,466 or 30.4% took place on the National Highways, including Expressways, 1,16,158 or 25% on State Highways and 2,07,286 or 44.6% on other roads. Death rides the 165-km Delhi-Agra Yamuna Expressway where traffic rules are flouted and enforcement is poor, making it India’s most lethal highway By ROJI KUMARI SINGH I s it a short route between Delhi and Agra or the shortest route from life to death?” asks Rishi Yadav, who survived one of the deadliest road accidents on Yamuna Expressway early this month. The swanky 165-km long expressway developed under public-private partnership at a cost of `12,839 crore to drastically reduce the travel time between Delhi and Agra has been rechristened the ‘highway of death’ after a shocking series of fatal accidents. Authorities have recorded 5,749 crashes on the road since its inauguration in August 2012, which makes it one of the most dangerous roads of India considering its far shorter length compared to several main National Highways. On July 8, 29 people were killed and 18 injured, including Yadav, after a double-decker bus of the Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation toppled into a 40-foot deep drain near Etmadpur. The driver had reportedly dozed off at the wheel and the speeding bus—the last one to Delhi from Lucknow’s Alambagh depot—crashed into a divider before turning into a weapon of mass self-destruction. Most of the passengers, too, were sleeping when death struck. Exactly 21 days ago, on June 16, eight members of a family on their way to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal were killed when their car rammed into a truck on the expressway in Mathura district. Five members of the family from Jewar in Gautam Buddh Nagar district died on the spot and three others succumbed to injuries. This year alone such frequent crashes have claimed 127 lives. Why has the seven-year-old state-of-theart expressway become a symbol of fatalities in the fast lane? Now managed by the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA), it took over 12 years to build since the proposal was mooted in 2001. The authorities and experts, however, blame the accidents on overspeeding, sleepy drivers, poor visibility in winter and overheated tyres bursting. KILLER LENGTHS Originally planned as a fast-moving corridor between Noida and Agra, the expressway was subsequently extended up to Lucknow. The idea was to connect the main townships and commercial centres on the eastern side of the Yamuna river that would spur avenues for industrial and urban development—and, most importantly to relieve the load of the overcrowded , National Highway 19 (old NH 2). The road, developed by the Jaypee Group, appeared as a blessing for domestic and foreign tourists visiting Agra. Previously the drive was 210 km long on , NH 2 and took nine to 10 hours to return to Delhi. The expressway—designed for a speed of 120 km per hour (kmph)—reduced travel time by almost half. The speed limits for cars and heavy vehicles are 100 kmph and 60 kmph respectively Between 2012 and 2017, . 2,30,46,542 overspeeding vehicles were recorded on camera at the three toll plazas. Of these, Jewar saw the maximum number at 1,07,00,438, while Mathura and Agra registered 70,13,532 and 53,32,572 vehicles respectively . Till Agra, the road length is 165.537 km, with six lanes extendable to eight. The width of the service road is seven metres for 14 km and 5.50 metres for 32 km. Its rigid pavement is made of concrete and has a six-metre-wide median. There are 41 minor bridges and 70 underpasses along the way YEIDA was constituted on April . 24, 2001, and the UP government notified 334 villages of Gautam Buddh Nagar, Bulandshahar, Aligarh, Mahamaya Nagar (Hatras), Mathura and Agra districts. The road has spurred economic growth both in the UP region and in adjoining states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana. However, YEIDA is currently headless after its Chief Operation Officer Arunvir Singh superannuated last month. About two-three years into the road’s operation, the bloodstains on the smooth asphalt could not be ignored any longer. The corridor is severely criticised for its poor safety parameters, considering the high number of accidents and deaths. According to authorities, there has been an average two accidents per day or about 782 per year (see: Crash Report) since the road opened to the public. In the 5,738 accidents, the number of deaths and injured combined was 10,253. The maximum number of accidents (1,219) was in 2016. Turn to page 2 Fatalities on National Highways accounted 53,181 (36% of for total deaths). State Highways recorded 39,812 (26.9%) deaths and other roads 54,920 (37.1%). NH 19 Delhi-Kolkata LENGTH: 1,465 KM BLACK SPOTS: 59 Thane-Chennai LENGTH: 1,235 KM BLACK SPOTS: 27 NH 132 & 183 Chennai-Theni DEADLIEST NATIONAL HIGHWAYS BLACK SPOTS: 24 Some 68 villages are located along the these two highways and in the absence of any subway or foot over-bridge, crossing the highway is a nightmare for the residents NH 48 NH 48 Delhi-Mumbai LENGTH: 1,250 KM BLACK SPOTS: 45 The worst is Delhi-Jaipur stretch with an average of 191 deaths annually NH 8 & NH 106 Nongstoin- Sabrum LENGTH: 723 KM BLACK SPOTS: 38 The stretch has been blamed for the deaths of a disturbing number of south Indian tribal villagers who live alongside it in a village named Peddakunta
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