On a quiet Sunday morning, two young men were cut down in the prime of their lives in a road accident here. A third, who was travelling with them, is still battling for his life.
Their Innova car, while trying to overtake a two-wheeler, veered out of control, crashed into a protection wall on the side of the narrow, two-lane Thondayad bypass, overturned and landed as a mangled heap of metal. Eyewitnesses say it was all over in the blink of an eye.
K. Jasim, 19, and Rashid Abdul Khader, 21, were killed on the spot. Mohammed Faisal, their friend, is under intensive care at the Government Medical College.
Accident statistics with the State police show that the trend of death in road accidents, caused mainly by speeding, has increased almost double-fold in past decade from 2,710 to 4,145. The victims are mostly young men at the wheel of powerful, and often expensive, vehicles or hapless people who happen to be in their way.
While these accidents multiply and young lives are lost, the Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) is left with barely the will or the diesel to catch the speedsters in time to save lives.
Less than 24 hours after the Sunday accident, authorities of the department, on Monday, said a multi-crore proposal to buy 10 Interceptor vehicles as part of the department’s road safety exercise would lapse by March 31.
Each vehicle costs Rs. 25 lakh. Fitted with sophisticated gadgets, it can detect the speed of any vehicles from luxury cars to big trucks. A digital video recorder captures images giving the exact location and time of a vehicle, thereby making it a legal digital document.
The entire northern region of the State shares one Interceptor, put on the road way back in 2008.
“It was only a proposal to buy 10 Interceptors. A sum of Rs. 5.5 crore was set aside for this. Now it is too late,” Alex Paul, Joint Transport Commissioner, Government of Kerala, said.
Transport Minister Aryadan Mohammed told The Hindu on Monday that the funds were originally meant for setting up vehicle-testing stations and driving-test facilities across the State.
“We have utilised these funds this year. We have already inaugurated these stations in Kozhikode, 90 per cent of the work is over in Kannur,” the minister said.
Mr. Mohammed, however, said he had no knowledge of a proposal to buy Interceptors.
But enquiries with the financial section of the State Transport Commissionerate confirmed the “proposal” to buy the vehicles.
But the MVD’s woes do not end there. Deputy Transport Commissioner in-charge, northern region, Rajeev Puthalath, said the Kozhikode Regional Transport Office alone owed about Rs. 1.5 lakh in dues to pumps for diesel supplied to its enforcement vehicles.