Road safety, like charity, must begin at home. The police have been keeping a strict vigil on two-wheeler riders without helmets and those motorists jumping signals and violating parking rules. At the same time, the men and women in uniform have also been caught on camera driving without helmet and talking on the mobile several times. Adivashi appealed to the police commissioner last week to instruct his people to observe the law first before catching the law breaker by his collar. In fact the ongoing Road Safety fortnight should send a stern message to the policemen and women to this effect. Isn’t it ridiculous for the police to catch bikers without helmets when they themselves do not carry helmets with them?
A deadly trend of competition in law breaking appears to be on the rise in this City of the 21st century. One often observes families of five or even six riding a motorcycle or a scooter with none wearing a helmet. Then, we have speedsters scaring pedestrians. Obviously well-to-do men driving luxurious cars constantly honk at signals forcing those in the front to jump the red signal – a factor that Guardian Minister Ganesh Naik himself admitted while launching the road safety drive! Police say 95% of accidents happen only due to non-observance of traffic rules.
CIDCO built wide roads for the convenience to facilitate smooth flow of traffic but they are blocked with either unauthorized hawkers or reckless parking. Small wonder one sees hardly any vehicle without a dent.
Road safety is not just about forcing people to wear helmets and undergoing pollution checks. It is also about ensuring roads in good condition for hassle-free driving. Over the past one year, Adivashi has been writing about the parking and hawker menace. Today, Minister Ganesh Naik himself warned his mayor nephew Sagar against hawkers blocking roads near railway stations and wondered as to why the municipal corporation is not taking any action against encroachers. “I will forget family relationships when it comes to the issues of public inconvenience and will silently protest,” he told Sagar.
Being the Excise Minister himself, he is supposed to keep an eye on the State exchequer, Naik said he hates drunken driving. The menace of local youth showing off on their motor bikes with their suddenly acquired money in land deals has also been on the rise. And Naik also pointed out at these reckless riders. Road safety is also about ensuring safety of pedestrians and one hopes that the police will look at this aspect while organizing walkathons during the fortnight.
Another aspect of traffic safety is about suburban train travel. Official statistics show as many 235 people died in rail accidents in Navi Mumbai. Reckless crossing of tracks and footboard bravados are to blame for most of these deaths.
POWER GAMES: The reduction of power tariff in Delhi seems to have its affect here, too. While Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam demanded power tariff cut in Mumbai, his party corporator Santosh Shetty of Nerul says he has been fighting against exorbitant rates in Navi Mumbai. With several slums and illegal shops drawing power the T & D (transmission and distribution but popularly known as theft and dacoity) losses have been pretty much high. Power officials admit that the legal consumers are forced to pay for pilferage by others. This election year may witness power games of another kind!
Another election year announcement by Rahul Gandhi – to allow vegetable growers to sell their produce directly to consumers by skipping the APMC markets – has prompted protests from traders and head loaders. APMC markets will observe a day’s strike on Tuesday. Federation of (trade) Associations of Maharashtra (FAM) president Mohan Gurnani explains that the law already provides for direct sale by farmers, but this is feasible within a five km radius of the farms. Since Mumbai is 100 km to150 km away from the vegetable growing areas, it won’t be possible for the farmers to market their produce directly, he says justifying the agents’ role.
That is understandable. But, what about the consumer interest? The innumerable middlemen have been contributing to the high cost vegetables that are sold at relatively cheaper rates at the farms.

This is the 57th in a series on Navi Mumbai by veteran media professional B N Kumar, a long-time resident of Mumbai’s twin city. He can be contacted at: mailbnk@gmail.com

B N Kumar

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