Boudh: More than 600 accidents in a span of four years, 182 dead, 141 critically injured and 549 partially injured. This is no whodunit from a spooky movie. These are real time figures from the 150 km stretch along Khurda-Bolangir National Highway-57 in district Boudh. It has become a virtual death trap owing to its narrow ways, sharp turns and hilly terrain.
Surprisingly, nothing has helped or been a deterrent to prevent mishaps from taking place here. It has consumed many lives over the years, among them that of the then district Agriculture Additional Director, Manoranjan Mallik. He was on his way to Boudh on January 24 last year, when his car crashed into a tree at Radhanagar Square killing him and his associates on the spot. The then Collector of Boudh, Ramakant Sethi also lost his life here on August 26 last year.
To alert the motorists, all accident-prone areas on the NH have been marked as Black Spots by the district administration but clearly, going by the accident rate, they have not been of much use.
Residents of Boudh point out that apart from the faulty road with its blind curves, drunk driving and riding without helmets are also a contributing factor for the accidents. Besides, there are frequent jams because the laying of bypass roads at Boudh and Puruna Katak has been left halfway. Likewise, the Manmunda bypass underway is incomplete due to disputes for several years. Narrow bridges built over the national highway are also a reason.
According to police officers, more than a hundred offenders have been arrested and forwarded to the court in the last two months on charges of drunk driving.
People living in the area have suggested the setting up of an Integrated Highway Management System on the stretch besides the installation of CCTV cameras as promised by the Odisha Transport Department.
State Transport Minister Padmanabh Behera has assured that he will personally devise and supervise a plan in collaboration with the Works Department to curb accidents and ensure that no more lives are lost.