Kurnool, Anantapur highways turn death traps

There are dozens of ‘black spots’ on these roads, posing grave risks to motorists

Updated - June 24, 2022 01:12 pm IST

Published - June 13, 2022 04:34 pm IST - KURNOOL/ANANTAPUR

The district panel has identified Tapovanam Junction in Anantapur as the ‘worst’ traffic junction

The district panel has identified Tapovanam Junction in Anantapur as the ‘worst’ traffic junction | Photo Credit: R.V.S. Prasad

A major road accident at Veldurthi on Valentine’s Day last year, resulting in the loss of 14 lives, is just one of many that have occurred at an alarming frequency on the highways passing through Kurnool and Anantapur districts.

Over 1,000 persons have died in road accidents in a span of three years in the two districts, with Kurnool district accounting for a larger share of the casualties.

While the accident at Veldurthi junction on National Highway 44 was said to have occurred due to human error, an unrestricted direct entry from a village on to the NH-44 carriageway seemed to have led to the accident.

Around 1,000 km of national highways run through the undivided Kurnool and Anantapur districts. These highways have now become highly unsafe for motorists, with an estimated 60 ‘black spots’ identified by the police where over 10 accidents have been recorded in the last three years.

Irresponsible driving coupled with bad road conditions has proven to be the leading cause behind a majority of the accidents. A recent accident in which three persons lost their lives reportedly due to bad road conditions between Vajrakarur and Guntakal in Anantapur district highlights the gravity of the situation, say locals.

Driving on the wrong side of the road has resulted in a whopping 25% of accidents, and most of the deceased persons in these accidents were men aged between 25 and 48, according to the police.

Every three months, the Traffic Advisory Boards meet in both the districts, but a paucity of funds and lack of sufficient follow-up action by the district administration, police, transport, and R&B officials sees the situation remain unchanged.

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), which is supposed to maintain the highways with money collected through toll fees, has failed in taking up basic minimum repairs, let alone complete pending projects such as the two flyovers in Kurnool at Santosh Nagar and Krishna Nagar.

The Santosh Nagar flyover project, which has been in the works since 2018, has seen two contractors being changed. The Krishna Nagar project, started in 2020, is also yet to be completed. The service roads that are now serving as the main carriageway are unfit for highway traffic.

Anantapur Superintendent of Police Fakkkeerappa Kaginelli said they have identified 13 ‘Black Spots’ (excluding Sri Sathya Sai district) and have adopted a multi-pronged strategy to reduce the number of fatalities, which were recorded at 126 in four months this year. Fatalities stood at 347 in 2019, 332 in 2020 and 348 in 2021.

Kurnool District Traffic Deputy Superintendent of Police N. Yugandhar Babu told The Hindu that they have identified 32 ‘black spots’ in the district (excluding Nandyal district) and are placing zigzag barricades and signboards at these spots to minimise accidents. The residual district of Kurnool, excluding Nandyal district, has recorded 188 deaths in three months from March to May this year.

In addition to barricades, zebra crossings were painted and highway mobile patrolling initiated by six vehicles in Kurnool district and nine vehicles in Anantapur district. Suggestions to re-engineer some stretches of the highway are being sent to the R&B Department, police officials said, adding that they are also clamping down on illegal parking of vehicles on the highways.

In addition to drunken driving checks and making drivers wash their faces on highways late at night, several awareness campaigns are being organised in colleges and schools among students who use two-wheelers. The stress is on the use of helmets and fastening safety belts in four-wheelers.

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