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Around 15,000 deaths in road accidents due to potholes ‘unacceptable’, says SC

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New Delhi | The Supreme Court on Thursday termed the death of nearly 15,000 people in road accidents caused by potholes in the last five years  “unacceptable” and said the number was probably more than those killed on the border or by terrorists. This indicates that authorities concerned are not maintaining the roads properly, a bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur said.

“It is unacceptable that such a large number of death takes place on roads due to potholes,” said the bench, which also comprised Justices Deepak Gupta and Hemant Gupta. The bench perused a report filed by the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety, headed by former apex court judge Justice K S Radhakrishnan, which said 14,926 persons had died in road accidents due to potholes from 2013 to 2017 across the country. “It is almost 15,000 deaths in five years, probably more that those killed on border or by terrorists,” the bench said, adding, “These are government figures”. The bench asked the Centre to file their response on the committee’s report after consulting all state governments and posted the matter for hearing in January.

Advocate Gaurav Agarwal, assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the matter, said the committee has filed a report on the issue following the apex court’s direction and consulted all the states. He said the data on death in such accidents was based on the figures of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. The bench observed that many authorities like the municipal corporations, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), concessionaires working with them or the state road departments would be responsible for these deaths as they were not maintaining the roads.

Referring to the number of deaths, the bench said, “This is absolutely a very high number and indicates that concerned authorities whether they are municipal corporations, state governments, NHAI and others are not maintaining the roads”.

The bench also observed that no compensation was paid to the victim’s family in such cases and legal representatives of the deceased have to “live with the unforeseen tragedy due to lack of concern shown by the authorities”. It said no data was available before it about the number of persons injured in road accidents due to potholes and it was clear that “number of injured will be much much higher than the number of deaths”.

The apex court had in July termed as “frightening” the number of deaths in accident caused due to potholes on roads across the country and had observed that number of fatalities in such incidents was more than those in terror attacks.While hearing a matter related to road safety in India, the bench had also said that persons who have lost their lives as a result of accidents caused due to potholes should be entitled to compensation.
It had asked the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety to look into this “very serious issue” and file a report before it.

The court is also dealing with issue of compensation paid to the victims of hit-and-run and road accidents. It had also raised the issue of deaths in accidents due to potholes on roads, particularly in Mumbai, and said that according to reports there were around 4,000 potholes in Mumbai.

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India invited as ‘Guest of Honour’ to OIC meet, Sushma Swaraj to attend

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Official sources said it was for the first time, India has been invited to an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting as a guest of honour.

 

New Delhi| In a significant move, India has been invited to the inaugural plenary of the foreign ministers’ conclave of the OIC, a powerful grouping of Muslim majority nations, and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will attend it in Abu Dhabi next month as the ‘guest of honour’.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) called the invitation a “welcome recognition” of the presence of 185 million Muslims in India and of their contribution to its pluralistic ethos, and of India’s contribution to the Islamic world.

Official sources said it was for the first time, India has been invited to an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting as a guest of honour. The 46th Session of the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers will be held in Abu Dhabi from March 1 to 2.

The invitation to India by the OIC comes at a time when India has been mounting a diplomatic offensive against Pakistan to isolate it internationally following the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.

The OIC has usually been supportive of Pakistan and, often sided with Islamabad on the Kashmir issue.

The MEA said Foreign Minister of United Arab Emirates Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan invited Swaraj as the ‘guest of honour’ to address the inaugural plenary and that India was happy to accept the invitation.

“We see this invitation as the desire of the enlightened leadership of the UAE to go beyond our rapidly growing close bilateral ties and forge a true multifaceted partnership at the multilateral and international level,” the MEA said in a release.

“We see this invitation as a milestone in our comprehensive strategic partnership with the UAE. We also see this invitation as a welcome recognition of the presence of 185 million Muslims in India and of their contribution to its pluralistic ethos, and of India’s contribution to the Islamic world,” it said.

India is, therefore, happy to accept the invitation and thanked the leadership of the UAE for it, the ministry said.

Last year, Bangladesh proposed a restructuring of the charter of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to pave way for the inclusion of non-Muslim countries like India as an “observer state” of the 50-year old grouping.

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Assam hooch tragedy death toll mounts to 59, 200 taken ill

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Jorhat| At least 59 people have died and over 200 taken ill after consuming spurious liquor in tea gardens in Assam‘s Golaghat and Jorhat since Thursday night, Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Saturday.

The death toll is rising every minute, the minister said after visiting Jorhat Medical College Hospital (JMCH) here.

“This morning the death toll in Golaghat and Jorhat districts was 59 and 200 people have been admitted to hospitals. The death toll and the number of people admitted are changing minute by minute,” Sarma told reporters after meeting some patients at the hospital.

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100 cars gutted in fire at Aero India 2019 show in Bengaluru

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Bengaluru | More than 100 cars have been gutted in to fire at the parking lot near the Aero India Show held at the Yelahankha air base in Bengaluru.

According to a local eye witness, a grass fire spread to parking area number 5 and some vehicles which were parked there have also caught fire. The fire department has stated that around 80-100 cars gutted in fire near the venue of the Aero India Show in Bengaluru.

 

Officials stated that around 10 fire engines have rushed to the spot. Responding on the incident Senior police official MNReddi tweeted, “Fire in the open field parking lot of aero show. Nearly 20 cars burnt. Fire fighting operations by Chief Fire Officer and 10 water tenders staff underway.”

Earlier on Tuesday, one fighter pilot was killed after two Surya Kiran Aircraft crashed during the rehearsal of the Aero India Show.

 

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