The Yamuna Expressway, which witnessed the death of 29 people on Monday, seems to have become a highway of accidents. At least 77 people have died this year only in accidents on the 165-km expressway, according to RTI data accessed by NGO SaveLIFE Foundation. The NGO said 703 lives were lost in 4,880 accidents between August 2012, when the expressway was opened for commercial operations, and January last year.
Built at a cost of Rs 12,839 crore, the expressway in western Uttar Pradesh is managed by Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA). However, the six-lane high-speed corridor has been severely criticised for its poor safety parameters and also because of the high number of accidents and deaths.
Another set of data accessed by Agra-based activist and lawyer Krishna Chand Jain from YEIDA via RTI had information until March last year. It showed 4,956 accidents were reported on the expressway since its inception until March last year, in which 718 people died and 7,671 were injured.
The RTI response Jain received detailed that 1,161 (almost 24 per cent) of the accidents were caused due to over-speeding, while 595 (12 per cent) were due to bursting of tyres and 235 (4.74 per cent) due to fog.
“There were no detail on cause of the remaining 2,965 accidents (59.82 per cent cases), neither by YEIDA nor Jaypee Infratech, which has constructed the expressway,” Jain, Secretary of NGO Agra Development Foundation, claimed.
YEDIA has identified three “black spots” on the stretch between Greater Noida and Agra where rumble strips have been created to keep the driver awake in case they get drowsy.
“There’s an urgent need to improve enforcement on our highways. This is not a one-off incident. In 2017, over 9,000 people have lost their lives in preventable bus crashes,” SaveLIFE Foundation CEO Piyush Tewari said.
“The other urgent action required is on engineering issues. Most of our highways are missing crash barriers and other infrastructure measures that can prevent a crash from becoming fatal,” Tewari said.
Early morning on Monday, the UP Roadways bus had dashed against the safety railing at a high speed and plunged about 20 feet into a drain, killing 29 people.
Tewari said the missing safety infrastructure on highways is a pandemic that requires urgent attention. “We hope the UP government as well as the Union government will take urgent policy and on-ground measures to control it.” Separately, a media report stated that 110 people were killed in 659 accidents in 2018 on the expressway.