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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Blood on the road


While the Delhi government contemplates action, Blueline buses continue their killing spree on Delhi roads
ANIL PANDEY | Issue Dated: October 21, 2007
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Blood on the road It was a very unusual sight outside Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s residence–a Blueline bus wobbling towards the pavement. The police acted promptly and arrested the reckless driver, who turned out to be BJP leader and former Union Minister, Vijay Goel. By then, Goel’s act had served its purpose of demonstrating that private buses in the capital were being run by inexperienced drivers like him. The cops may have now swung into action, impounding 300 buses, but it is a typical case of too little, too late. Already, 96 people have been killed by the killer Blueline buses and chances are that by the time you read this, the toll may have crossed well over 100.

Last year also, 100 people died after being crushed under the wheels of these private buses. Each time an accident happens, a few meetings are held and strict action is promised. But after the media glare turns away, it's back to business. Like drunken elephants, these buses move on roads, with contempt for road safety. So, how do the people operating these buses go unscathed every time? The answer, like for everything else in this country, is corruption. Most of these buses are run on contract (which is against the rules). Till date, the permit of not a single bus running on contract has been cancelled. Leader of the Opposition in Delhi assembly, Jagdish Mukhi, says, “It is the corruption within the Congress which is at the root of this evil.”

As far as drivers are concerned, it's simple arithmetic. Since most buses are sub-contracted to small-time operators, they are desperate to cut corners. They in turn pay drivers on the basis of how many journeys they make in a day. More the speed, more the incentive. Delhi’s Transport Minister, Haroon Yusuf, agrees. “The main reason behind accidents involving private buses is non-compliance of traffic rules,” he says. Most Blueline buses are driven by men who come to Delhi in search of better employment. Driving buses for 15-16 hours a day makes them short-tempered and ready to snap at anyone who challenges their authority. “Such trying circumstances make them prone to anger and violence; they begin to think of themselves as the king of roads,” says psychologist, Dr. Ritu Chaudhry.

But will the government ever be able to phase out these buses? A number of these buses, as revealed time and again, are owned by MLAs, bureaucrats, politicians and their relatives. That is why there has been no solution to this problem so far. “We are not aware as such, but may be few operators have such connections,” says Yusuf.

With the Delhi High Court taking a suo moto notice, the Delhi government may finally be forced into action. For now, Delhiites wait for divine intervention.
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017