The Supreme Court on Thursday termed as “unacceptable” the death of nearly 15,000 people in road accidents caused by potholes in the last five years and said the number was probably more than those killed on the border or by terrorists.
This indicates that authorities concerned are not maintaining the roads properly, a bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur said.
“It is unacceptable that such a large number of death takes place on roads due to potholes,” said the bench, which also comprised Justices Deepak Gupta and Hemant Gupta.
The bench perused a report filed by the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety, headed by former apex court judge Justice K S Radhakrishnan, which said 14,926 persons had died in road accidents due to potholes from 2013 to 2017 across the country.
“It is almost 15,000 deaths in five years, probably more that those killed on border or by terrorists,” the bench said, adding, “These are government figures”.
The bench asked the Centre to file their response on the committee’s report after consulting all state governments and posted the matter for hearing in January.
Advocate Gaurav Agarwal, assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the matter, said the committee has filed a report on the issue following the apex court’s direction and consulted all the states.
He said the data on death in such accidents was based on the figures of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
The bench observed that many authorities like the municipal corporations, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), concessionaires working with them or the state road departments would be responsible for these deaths as they were not maintaining the roads.
Referring to the number of deaths, the bench said, “This is absolutely a very high number and indicates that concerned authorities whether they are municipal corporations, state governments, NHAI and others are not maintaining the roads”.
The bench also observed that no compensation was paid to the victim’s family in such cases and legal representatives of the deceased have to “live with the unforeseen tragedy due to lack of concern shown by the authorities”.
It said no data was available before it about the number of persons injured in road accidents due to potholes and it was clear that “number of injured will be much much higher than the number of deaths”.
The apex court had in July termed as “frightening” the number of deaths in accident caused due to potholes on roads across the country and had observed that number of fatalities in such incidents was more than those in terror attacks.
While hearing a matter related to road safety in India, the bench had also said that persons who have lost their lives as a result of accidents caused due to potholes should be entitled to compensation.
It had asked the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety to look into this “very serious issue” and file a report before it.