CM Uddhav Thackeray during the inaugural function of the 31st National Road Safety Week in Mumbai. (Photo: Ganesh Shirsekar)
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray took a dig at the erstwhile BJP-led government at an event in Mumbai on Monday, saying, “Those who had four wheels and were bound to crash ... have crashed...”. He also said the Maha Vikas Aghadi government headed by him was a three-wheeler vehicle, which was finely balanced and running smoothly. Thackeray’s comment comes after the BJP criticised the ruling Congress-Sena-NCP alliance in the state and called it an unstable three-wheeler.
The chief minister made the remarks during the inaugural function of the 31st National Road Safety Week in Mumbai. He added, “The next important wheel is in the hands of the driver, who has complete control of the vehicle.” Emphasising on the importance of road safety, Thackeray urged the government to work towards reducing accidents and pointed out that India has regressed in reducing the number of accidents when compared to China. He pointed out that China has reported around 94,000 accidents in 2005 but the number has dropped to 45,000 in 2019, whereas 98,000 accidents were reported in India in 2005, but the number had gone up to 1.5 lakh in 2019.
Maharashtra saw an 8 per cent reduction in the number of accidents in 2019 — 32,876 — compared to 35,717 accidents in 2018. But state Transport Minister Anil Parab said the number has to be reduced further. “There are at least 28,898 people who have been injured in these accidents, some of them could be grievously hurt and their lives would be affected... Where stringent rules need to be enforced, they will be... but everyone involved has to play their part in bringing these accidents further down by 10 percent,” said the minister.
During the function, drivers of various public road transportation organisations such as the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking, the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) buses and the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC), who did not have a single accident on their record over the past 32 years of their service, were felicitated. Along with drivers, traffic policemen and local residents who had helped accident victims across the state were recognised for their quick thinking, which had saved human lives.
Among those felicitated was Traffic Constable Anil Ahire of Tardeo police station, who had rushed a six-year old girl to hospital in time after finding her abandoned on the streets during his patrolling duty.
Others who were recognised at the event included the first respondent to any road accident in the state, and they were termed ‘devdoots’. State Transport Commissioner Shekhar Chane said taxi and truck drivers will also be given formal training as first respondents.
Urging two-wheeler riders to wear helmets, Minister of State (Home) Sachin Patil said, “If Bahubali and Virat Kohli can wear helmets, why can’t we...”. Patil requested Thackeray to consider creating a separate fund under the state government to set up or repair signals, as against those under municipal corporations which have their own priorities.