Author: Muskan Arora
Basically, what is pothole it is generally a bowl-shaped hole in the pavement surfaces which results in bad roads. This is usually formed due to traffic loading, material used, bad temperature, rain holding of water on road due to rain. They can even grow to feet’s if not taken appropriate steps on time if they become large enough damage to vehicles occur that can be damage to tires, suspensions.
On the other hand, let us talk about injuries and deaths occurred due to potholes and negligent behaviour of administrations and politicians who often blame people. In India number of people die in a road accident is far more than number of people die in a terrorist attack or on border. “This indicates that authorities concerned are not maintaining the roads properly”- Justice Madan B Lokur.
Every year deaths related to potholes seem to increase, especially during monsoons; and just like every year compensation is given to the family of the victims for their loss. But is the compensation enough? Instead of filing cases against contractors and engineers in cases of road maintenance, officials and politicians often blame the drivers for negligent driving.
Maharashtra PWD minister Chandrakant Patil said that pothole-ridden roads cannot be entirely blamed for accidents. “When you talk about a death in such an accident, you forget that five lakh other people have travelled on the same road,” he said in a statement to the media.
In India number of people die in a road accident is far more than number of people die in a terrorist attack or on border
Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road, Transport and Highways, on the inauguration of Road safety week at New Delhi, noted that his ministry is taking steps to address these scary statistics.
In 2014, a total of 11,106 accidents took place due to potholes problem and 3,039 people lost their lives rest were injured.
In 2015, 10,876 accidents took place because of potholes problem and 3,416 people lost their lives because of it rest were injured.
In 2016, 6,424 accidents took place on roads with potholes problems and 2,324 people lost their lives. In 2016, the maximum number of persons died on the roads due to potholes problem was in Uttar Pradesh with 714 deaths, followed by Maharashtra with 329 cases and Odisha with 208 cases.
In 2017, The ministry said the country had lost 1,47,913 people to road crashes in 2017, of which 48,764 were on two-wheelers, 26,869 were car crash victims, 20,457 were pedestrian’s deaths, and 3,559 were cyclists. This roughly amounts to an average of over 400 deaths every day on Indian roads. In 2017, again the maximum number of deaths due to potholes took place in Uttar Pradesh with 987 cases followed by Maharashtra with 726 deaths and Haryana with 522 fatalities.
According to the government, the highest number of deaths due to potholes occurred in Uttar Pradesh in 2018, with 1043 deaths, followed by Haryana with 222 instances, and Maharashtra with 166 deaths.
Let’s talk about some incidents from different states which took place due to pothole problems and negligent behaviour of administration or authorities.
- Manisha Bhoir, a Mumbai based women lost her life due to falling of her bike and coming under a bus. Incident took place after a woman fell post hitting pothole on a water-lodged street.
- Eventually after four days of this event a 29-year-old man from Mumbai lost his life after his two-wheeler skidded over a pothole on the road and was run over by truck.
- Three years ago, when Dadarao Bilhore lost his son, Prakash, to a road crash caused by a pothole in Mumbai, he decided that it was time to take matters into his own hands. He went to the local government and pushed them to fix the potholes. Although he has gotten condolences and promises, nothing has changed.
- In Bhopal on 13 October 2019 a woman died in a road accident, there was a great carelessness on the part of police during investigation. Police accused son in law of woman for the accident and filed a case against him under section 304 A of Indian Penal Code. According to eyewitness’s accident was caused due to wrong patchwork done on the road by the PWD. In these cases, PWD department should take responsibility of the accident caused due to their carelessness. According to eyewitnesses and on examining the ground by the investigating officer it was seen that the patchwork done was half a feet above from the ground level due to which accident caused, driver lost his control on the vehicle and the woman sitting behind him fall on the road due to which she suffered head injury and died on the spot According to reports in past one month there were around 9 accidents caused due to this uneven patchwork done by the PWD. Government should take into account these faults on the part of authorities and put a check.
A study by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the pacific (UNESCAP) mentioned that road traffic accidents costs India nearly 3pc of its Gross Domestic Product a year or in absolute terms, about USD 58,000 million.
LAW RELATED PROVISION
The apex court Suo moto came up with a set of directives to improve road safety apex court directed states and union territories to make road safety norms and also to establish trauma centre in each district and also Supreme Court has asked the states to set up funds for road safety by March 2018. The apex court further said that the general public must be made aware of the universal accident helpline number 108 to stop road deaths.
SMT PUTTAMMA VS. B T JAGADEESHA,19 JULY 2012 
The driver due to potholes in the road the was not able to manage bus and due to sudden break due appellant suffered some fractures and filed a petition to seek compensation. In the circumstances the court awarded compensation to the appellant as some amount was spent towards medical expenses and other incidental charges Rs. 15000/- is awarded with 6% interest from the date of petition till deposit the insurer to deposit the amount in three months.
THE ORIENTAL INSURANCE CO.LTD. VS. M. LAKSHMIDEVI
The insurance company filed the present appeal under sec 173 of motor vehicle act compensation awarded by the tribunal is hereby confirmed. The owner of the Minidor Auto bearing registration number TN 29 F 9559 is directed to award amount determined by the tribunal along with interest and cost within a period of six weeks from the date of receipt of judgement.
The Motor Vehicles Amendment Act,2019
The amendments primarily address issues such as enhancing road safety, citizen convenience when interacting with the transportation department, enhancing rural transportation, last-mile connection, and public transportation, automation and computerization, and enabling online services. The Act is not a cure for all problems, but it is the first step towards ensuring that no deaths are caused by road accidents.
CHALLENGES FACED BY THE VICTIMS OF THE POTHOLE DEATH OR INJURED PEOPLE
There are many challenges faced by the victims some of them are enlisted below-:
- The main problem faced by the victims or families is that police authorities do not administer FIR against the authorities or road administrators rather they blame the person injured or died due to potholes that they were driving negligently and even did over speeding.
- There is no provision for the punishment to the victims i.e. only compensation is provided to the victims and case is dismissed no punishment is given to any authority, contractor for fault on their part.
- No timely treatment is provided to the victims due to which many people lose their lives.
- The cases are not registered as police do not provide documents to the court due to which victims suffer.
- The compensation to the victims is not provided timely due to which victims suffer physically, emotionally and financially.
What steps are being made to address the problem?
1. The government has said that it has mandated Road Safety Audit at each stage of the highway project to provide safer transportation to road users. At each step of the project, an independent road safety auditor conducts a road safety audit, with the results produced by the concessionaire/contractor.
2. Uttarakhand state taking preventive measures to avoid deaths and injuries due to potholes in monsoon. PWD has marked nearly 105 danger zone on the roads in Uttarakhand due to heavy rain and landslides in the state. In every monsoon large number of roads get damaged due to heavy rain falls and landslides and because of which many people lost their lives.PWD made arrangements to avoid the same out of 105 danger zones 39 danger zones are on national highway and 66 danger zones are on district and state highways.
Chief of PWD MR. Hari Om Sharma said in order to avoid road blockage due to potholes and landslides cause due to heavy rainfall, 431 JCB are make available on the spot and all other necessary arrangements shall be made to avoid these situations.
3. Safe drive-Save life -The number of deaths due to road accidents in West Bengal has reduced 13 per cent in a year after the safe drive-save life programme was launched in July last year. The number of accidents in the state decreased 16 per cent during the period and that of injured due to road accidents has also gone down by 12.4 per cent. The government has begun a campaign to instill in the public a feeling of safe driving and appropriate road behaviour.
4. An independent engineer/authority engineer appointed by National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the concerned project directors of NHAI inspect the project highways under their respective jurisdictions and to guarantee that the roads are free of potholes, implement appropriate short and long-term solutions through concessionaires/contractors.
5. Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), a civic body has decided to further experiment on Bengaluru roads, with a new technique called ‘micro-surfacing’. The method entails applying a 6-mm thick slurry seal on the road. The seal will keep the asphalt from cracking by protecting it. Outside of India, the approach is more widespread, and it was adopted in Bengaluru following successful trials in Chennai, Hyderabad, and Chandigarh.
6. Haryana had launched the Vision Zero programme last year which is aimed at reducing road traffic accident fatalities to zero in long term.
7. It appears to have already made an impact, since traffic accident deaths have decreased by up to 5% in 10 of the areas where it was implemented. A similar programme was also passed by Delhi’s state government last month, which commits to a 10-percent yearly decrease in accident mortality.
RECOMMENDATIONS TO PARLIAMENTARIANS, POLICE ADMINISTRATION AND OTHER AUTHORITIES
The most efficient method to deal with potholes is to prevent them from occurring in the first place, and to follow the adage that prevention is better than cure wherever feasible.
- Drainage Improving and enhancing the system of drainage authorities should keep check on this as water does not get accumulated or collected. The side drain should be enough to carry away all the surface water collected,
- Traffic in the city should be regularized by adopting such methods where less no. of vehicle’s is used by the people to travel this ensures that the traffic intensity is reduced which will ultimately reduce the stress on surface. e.g. Government should adopt odd even system which will not only help to reduce pollution but also to manage heavy load on roads.
- Low Grade Material The authorities should keep check on the material used by the concessionaire/contractor of the project because life of a single citizen matters when it comes to the injuries caused by the potholes. This should be the major concern of the government to keep check on such projects and kind of material being used for construction.
- Special laws must be implemented by the parliament to put check on this matter as lives of thousand of peoples are at risk due to fault by the contractors. Special punishment must be prescribed so that these projects are done with cautions by the contractors.
- Free medical facilities should be provided to the victims who suffered injuries due to pothole problem this should be made compulsory in every state so that no one dies because of not getting timely treatment.
- Traffic loading the govt. should keep a proper check on this as it produces stress and deflections which result into potholes. The government should keep check on limits provided to carry a load by a particular vehicle so to avoid unnecessary load on the surface.
The paper deals with the problems of potholes, reasons of potholes and its adequate solution to avoid deaths. India today is facing huge loss of human resources due to this. Authorities should be concerned about this matter and should take preventive measures as soon as possible because a life of a single citizen matters. If authorities behave negligently to this issue it would endanger the life to many people as above provided statistics clearly shows that thousands of people are being injured and even are losing their lives due to this. But the authorities are not at all taking strict actions against the concessionaire/contractor of the project rather they are providing compensation to the families of the deceased. Is this enough for the one who lost his life, is justice being served to the one who lost his life unnaturally due to the fault of concessionaire/contractor of the project. If authorities do not put check on time and if this goes on the same pace it will however take lives of hundreds of people daily. This is a matter of real concern which should be taken into account by the authorities before the situation becomes vulnerable and out of control strict law should be made on this. Although states are taking preventive actions to reduce causalities but this is not enough on their part to curb this issue it need some special law which will provide solution to this problem.
 19th day of July, 2012
 20 february,2020