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Traffic accidents in Goa

7 May 2008, 15:51

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Traffic accidents kill more people in Goa than HIV/AIDS, say health experts.

The fatality rate from traffic accidents in Goa is estimated to be 170 per million persons, as against the Indian average of 80, according to Dinesh Mohan, of the Transportation, Research and Injury Prevention Programme, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

On Goa’s narrow roads, speeding mining trucks, buses and the ubiquitous sumos (large multi-passenger cars) associated with the tourism industry, are responsible for many traffic violations and accidents.

Gurunath Kelekar – a veteran freedom fighter [those who fought for Goan independence from Portugal] in Margoa – said he is part of a collective of freedom fighters who have set up a society called Marg. This organization promotes the message of ‘people who love Goa’s roads – and their houses’ (many Goans are selling their old Portuguese style homes to builders). At the time of Goa’s liberation in 1964 there were hardly 5 000 vehicles. Now there are more than 550 000, he said.

“The problem of road accidents is acute. People weep and shout when someone is killed in a motor accident. The government distributes money as compensation. But is anyone serious about bringing civic sense to Goans? Ninety per cent of people here are literate – and therefore arrogant!”, Kelekar fumed.

Access to public transportation is a big issue for rural Goa, said Desai. The lack of it makes every Goan aspire for an individual vehicle – which places stress on narrow country roads that cannot be widened. The consequence is vehicular pollution leading to respiratory tract infections and a high rate of accidents, he said.

>by Rupa Chinai

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