Till the time of writing this report, Fifty-two people, including 10 children, were killed in a horrific accident in Telangana on Tuesday. Outrage grew across the state as angry citizens hit out at the government, asking it to take responsibility for the tragic incident. Experts point out that the Telangana State buses are usually unfit for roads, and drivers are under severe mental duress.
Citizens across the country were subjected to shocking visuals from the road accident — videos showed people screaming in pain after an overcrowded state-run road transport corporation bus overturned and fell into a valley in the state’s Jagtial district.
The bus fell off Kondagattu Ghat Road while returning from Anjaneya Swamy temple atop Kondagattu Hills, about 190 km from Hyderabad.
Even as the Telangana government announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the families of the deceased, many have questioned if the state’s responsibility ends there. Several people on social media called it a ‘black day’ in the state’s history.
The bus was overcrowded as several people had undertaken a pilgrimage to the temple on Tuesday, a day that is considered auspicious by locals. Despite this, RTC officials reportedly did not make any extra arrangements.
It is a matter of judgement whether Mr Reddy, minister for transport, Telangana, India should resign over death of 52 passengers in overturn of state government-owned bus at Jagtial today.
“What action will ruling gvt take against so called transport minister Mahender Reddy who did nothing during his tenure, who is indirectly responsible for today’s huge tragedy,” another user wrote.
Road safety activists in the know said that a large portion of RTC buses in the state are outdated and are overrun with technical issues. Several of them are considered unsafe to travel on the road.
While there are fitness checks from time to time, officials allegedly exploit loopholes and ensure the buses are on the roads.
Vinod Kumar Kanumala, founder of the Indian Federation of Road Safety says, “There are state-run government buses, and there are private buses and drivers that are being hired by the Telangana government. Often, the latter are known to drive quite rashly.”
“The RTC drivers get training for the first six months when they join the organisation, but it ends there. It is a stressful job and drivers are under immense pressure to perform better. Yet, they receive no psychological help either. This is insufficient,” he adds.
Speaking to #KhabarLive, Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) Chief Spokesperson Dr Sravan Dasoju said that Transport Minister Mahender Reddy should be sacked and the state government should take responsibility for the incident.
Besides ex-gratia, educational and employment support to the families of the deceased and the injured, Sravan said that systematic issues should also be addressed.
“RTC employees are going through some mental unrest. It is one of the most important services and employees need to be physically and mentally fit. Many promises made to the employees have been unresolved and the drivers especially, need to be given special support,” he says.
“Typically, an IPS-level officer is the Managing Director of the TSRTC, but the Telangana government has brought in people favourable to the TRS and even given them an extension,” he adds.
In June this year, employees of the RTC went on strike alleging a severe financial crunch in the department, which was causing immense problems to retired employees who are yet to receive their dues and pension payments.
The employees also protested against the government’s failure to announce new recruitments, and demanded a pay hike.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Etela Rajender told reporters at Jagtial that 52 people were killed in the disaster. He said 47 bodies were brought to Jagtial Hospital while five people succumbed at a hospital in Karimnagar.
The dead include the driver B. Srinivas. Officials said the victims include 26 women and 10 children. The toll could go up as the condition of some of the injured was stated to be critical. A few critically injured were taken to hospitals in Karimnagar and Hyderabad.#KhabarLive