BHUBANESWAR: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notice to Odisha Government on the tragic road accident at Ranital in Bhadrak district where five students were killed and four others injured. Acting on a petition filed by Supreme Court lawyer and rights activist Radhakanta Tripathy, the apex human rights panel has asked the Chief Secretary to submit an action taken report (ATR) in four weeks. On July 19, five students, including four girls, were run over by a speeding truck on NH-16 while they were returning from school in their bicycles.
As the school is located close to the National Highway, the students reportedly used to cross the busy junction by risking their lives. Tripathy alleged there is no proper signage even if the school students cross the highway regularly. Surprisingly, despite repeated demands no regular check up of speed limits is done and there is no speed breakers at such places on the NH, he said. Citing that Bhadrak district is yet to have traffic control system, he said, few traffic personnel and less infrastructure without proper framework are other reasons behind such tragic accident.
“Many States including Odisha have been distributing cycles to school students free of cost without caring for their safety. The road safety and ensuring rights of the cyclists is a State subject. The Centre and the State Government should promptly act over the serious issue. Payment of meagre ex gratia for the loss of lives is merely an eyewash,” he pointed out.
He requested the NHRC to issue notices to the Secretary of Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and DG of Odisha Police to formulate a comprehensive policy incorporating speed laws for the cyclists, safety measures and prov i s i o n s for adequat e compensation. The Commission has warned that it will be constrained to invoke coercive process under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 for personal appearance if the Chief Secretary failed to submit the report within stipulated time.