‘People can afford covers for their phones but not helmets’

Accident victims, kin welcome Motor Vehicles Amendment Act

Prathistha Deveshwar was 13 years old when a road accident near Ropar in Punjab in 2011 left her paralysed for life. Restricted to a wheelchair now, Ms. Deveshwar has not lost hope and believes she will be able to walk again.

Ms. Deveshwar was one of the speakers at an open dialogue organised by SaveLife Foundation NGO where road crash victims and their families demanded rapid implementation of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act 2019 to ensure safety on roads. The event was held at the India Women’s Press Corps here.

The speakers at the event, in particular, expressed their exasperation at those who oppose the amendments, saying that higher penalties will be instrumental in raising awareness that can save hundreds of life everyday.

Harry Singh was a 20-year-old student of Russian Literature at JNU when he met with an accident nine years ago on the university premises. As his two-wheeler flipped and he landed on the pedestrian walkway, he damaged his spine and is now paralysed waist down. “My parents had such high hopes of me,” he said, “and it has taken me nine years to be independent.”

Mr. Singh is the co-founder or Buddha Tea, a tea company founded in 2013. “I spent close to ₹1 lakh every month on my rehabilitation,” he shared. “The fear that this ruling will increase corruption is not well-founded,” he said, adding: “We live in a country where everyone can afford covers for their mobile phones but not helmets for their heads.”

Ms. Deveshwar said she was travelling with her family when their car overturned due to the bad roads and she believes that this amendment to law will hold the right people accountable. Now a third-year political science student at LSR, she says, “To be paralysed in a place like Punjab is not easy. I dropped out and was home-schooled. I moved to Delhi because I knew things would be easier here.”

Underage driving

Shilpa Mittal lost her younger brother Siddharth Sharma three years ago when an underage driver ran him over while he was crossing the street at a zebra crossing.

“We have all accepted accidents as something very common,” Ms. Mittal said. “You cannot have a ‘shining India’ with no regard for life,” she said as she blamed parents for allowing their children to drive before they attain the legal age.

While driving on the Lucknow-Noida highway, Shashank Shekhar’s brother was hit by someone driving on the wrong side of the road. Having incurred a brain injury, he has been in coma since. “I doubt if he will be integrated into society even if he recovers,” Mr. Shekhar said and thanked the passage of the amendments.

Sandhya Gurung’s son has also been in coma for the last two years. “I have done everything a mother can do for her son,” she says, while thanking the MVAA. “I am happy this has been passed. Had it been there two years ago, my son would have been fine today.”

‘Fines are fine’

SaveLife Foundation founder Piyush Tewari was also present at the event. He recalled the incident of his 16-year old brother’s death in 2007 in a hit and run case and said, “Fifteen lakh people lost their lives to road crashes in the last 10 years. Fines should not be reduced. If it is affordable, it is not a fine. The law is much welcomed.”

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 3:03:38 AM |

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