District-level Committees to Monitor Road Accidents in Odisha

The Odisha government has green-signalled a proposition to constitute expert committees in each district to study cases of road accidents and suggest remedial measures in its aftermath. The Additional District Magistrate (ADM) of each district will preside over the meetings.

“We will constitute district-level road safety monitoring committees (DRSMCs) under the chairmanship of ADM. The regional transport officer will be the committee’s member convener. Additional district medical officer, deputy superintendent of police, executive engineer (road and buildings), district education officer and junior motor vehicle inspector will be the members,” state transport department secretary Madhusudan Padhi said.

At present, each district has a District Road Safety Committee (DRSC), which is headed by a collector. The Odisha State Transport Authority (OSTA) has said that the DRSCs would now function in conjunction with the newly-formed DRSMCs. The need to carve a separate body arose because DRSCs would hardly convene due to the busy schedules of the collectors. Recently, the Supreme Court had also expressed displeasure and rapped the authorities over the lackadaisical attitude displayed by such committees.

“The main task of the DRSMC will also be the same as the DRSC. DRSMC will hold meetings once a month. We feel that an ADM, who is chairman of DRSMC, is relatively less busy than a district collector. So the ADM can hold meetings in regular intervals,” another transport official said.

The new regulations drafted in this regard mandate that a road engineer, junior motor vehicle inspector, and a police officer visit the site of a road accident to ascertain the cause. Accident-related deaths in Odisha saw a marginal increase in 2019 when compared to 2018. A total of 5,333 deaths were recorded in 2019 due to such mishaps. However, with the introduction of steep fines under the amended Motor Vehicles Act, accident rates have plummeted considerably.