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Containers flouting safety norms

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G. Krishnakumar

KOCHI: Vehicles used for transportation of special materials continue to ply dangerously on the busy roads of Kochi in gross disregard for rules and regulations. Several accidents involving such vehicles have been reported from the city and nearby areas. Last year a box containing nails fell off a lorry on a busy road at Kaloor. The scattered nails punctured more than 10 vehicles, including a police jeep. In another accident, A youth riding a motorbike hit a parked lorry laden with huge wooden logs. The lorry did not have the mandatory warning signal. The youth succumbed to his injuries.

The spillage of coconut oil from a lorry at Vazhakala on Wednesday was one among several such accidents. "We were lucky that coconut oil spilt onto the road. Just imagine the danger of leakage of hazardous or inflammable materials on a busy day in Kochi," says V.N. Sivasankara Pillai, emeritus Professor at the Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat).

Dr. Pillai, who was the former Director of the School of Environmental Studies at Cusat, says all vehicles used for transporting special materials should be leak- proof.

"The vehicle should have double barrels. In case of a leak from a barrel, there should be provision for shifting the material to the next barrel," he says.

Overturning, mechanical failure and error on the part of the driver are some of the common factors triggering accidents involving huge containers and carriers. Regional Transport Department officials say most of the drivers are not fully capable of handling an emergency situation. They also admit that drivers consume alcohol while driving, leading to major accidents.

"There are specific guidelines on how to transport materials such as hay, bamboo, wooden logs and steel and iron. But majority of the vehicles carry loads beyond the permissible limit," says an official.

For transportation of hazardous materials, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has issued specific guidelines. The transporters should obtain permission from the State board for transport of hazardous waste in addition to any other permission required under the Motor Vehicles Act.

The vehicles should be designed suitably to handle and transport the hazardous wastes of various characteristics. Hazardous wastes should be transported in closed containers.

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