A tanker lorry transporting palm oil capsized near the Ganesha Point traffic island along the Tiruchi-Thanjavur Highway at the entrance of BHEL industrial complex in the early hours of Tuesday, causing hardship to road users. The spot, which has been witness to accidents involving tankers, turned slippery due to oil spillage for several hours. There was no casualty and the driver escaped unhurt. The oil that spilled on the road had to be cleaned and diverted into the storm-water drain along the highway.
A fortnight ago, a lorry transporting electronic appliances skidded and fell on its side. Last October, a lorry laden with bamboo poles ploughed into the iron railings of the traffic island as the vehicle lost control, and the front two wheels broke off in the impact.
According to the police, the place was prone to accidents due to the large size of the traffic island. The obstruction created in the middle of the national highway to reduce the speed of vehicles was not serving the intended purpose. Rather, heavy vehicles moved at breakneck speed with the confidence to manoeuvre the lengthy curve, but forced to apply brakes when their judgment fails, a police official of BHEL station said.
Police said they have been emphasising to the BHEL management the need to reduce the size of the traffic island to prevent accidents. According to BHEL sources, mechanisms to prevent accidents would be discussed at a joint meeting planned with officials of National Highways Authority of India and police department. As a first step, the scope for reducing speed by installing barricades with inscriptions of warning messages and reflectors on both sides of the traffic island would be explored, police officials said. The police say they face a disadvantage while regulating vehicles around the traffic island since speed-breakers are not permitted along national highways. A BHEL official said the problem of over-speeding has indeed arisen after the conversion of the highway into a four-lane one by the NHAI. . The official acknowledged that a relook at the size of the traffic island has become necessary.
BHEL officials say a permanent solution could be found only if the height of the highway is raised for construction of underpasses at Ganesha Point and Training Centre. The NHAI’s stand is that the project could be taken up only on a cost-sharing basis, and that the onus was on the BHEL to bring it to fruition.