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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Driver of MTC bus involved in Gemini flyover accident dismissed

On 27th June 2012 – news spread like wild fire – it was all about a PTC bus falling off the Gemini Flyover [Anna bridge] – the city’s worst fears had been confounded in what was reported as a major road accident.   Anna Salai, formerly known as Mount Road,  is the major arterial road in Chennai, India. It starts at the Cooum Creek, south of Fort St George and ends at the Kathipara Junction in Guindy.  With the roadwork for Metro Rail and work for railway station, major part of the road has been made one-way recently.
photo courtesy : the Hindu Businessline

Most cities have flyovers and Chennai has many – most of them smaller ones with traffic snarls even after they were put up.  This occupies a pride of place not only because of being the first – but because of its strategic importance as also the quality of  its construction.  Anna Flyover (Tamil: அண்ணா மேம்பாலம்), also known as Gemini Flyover, the dual-armed flyover in the heart of the city nearer the area where once Gemini studios was situated was built  by East Coast Construction and Industries in 1973. 

In the recent past, there have not been any major accidents..  – on that fateful day in the afternoon Metro Transport Corporation bus in route 17M plying from Broadway to Vadapalani  crashed on the side parapet wall, crushed through and fell down from the bridge, fortunately not from a great height.  Fortunately all the passengers escaped with minor injuries. 

After the accident, some people tried to sensationalise even the suffering of others – various theories of the cause of the accident did float around - from ‘driver speaking on mobile phone’; negligence, vehicle not fit, and more….  There were good things too as the Police and Fire Service arrived reasonably immediately after the accident;       Public volunteered help; a private hospital nearby [Apollo Hospitals] made full arrangements to treat the injured passengers.  It was stated that more than 10 ambulance of Apollo and some from the Govt hospitals were pressed in to service.

Fortunately, the bus was not overcrowded being a lean time and no other vehicle got crushed in the melee.       Ministers, Mayor and many others visited the scene of accident and also visited those undergoing treatment at the hospitals.  Traffic was allowed in less than hours time on the Gemini flyover, which otherwise could have paralysed Chennai.  The access roads were sealed and rescue operations were undertaken in full swing.  Eventually, the bus could be seen towed away from the scene in less than 2 hours.

Now the aftermath :  it is today reported in newspapers that  D Prasad, driver of the MTC bus involved in an accident on June 27, has been  dismissed.   Immediately after the accident, the traffic police seized his license and arrested Prasad and conductor Hemakumar. They were booked under Sections 279 (rash and negligent driving), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others).   MTC too conducted a separate enquiry into the accident and placed Prasad under suspension. “Mr. Rangaraju, a retired judge, conducted the enquiry and concluded that the driver had indulged in rash driving,” said a senior MTC official.

It is reported that this  is one of the rare occasions where a driver has been dismissed for a non-fatal accident.  It is stated that even drivers causing fatal accidents are usually sent for a 90-day refresher course, which includes yoga classes and anger management , before they are put back behind the wheel.   Some reports quoting eyewitness stated that the driver,  who had more than 20 years of experience, had a phone in his hand while the accident took place. According to police records, the driver had made calls just before he left the depot and minutes after the accident took place.

Reports quoting  the Transport Corporation officials state  that  the driver  was dismissed because of the gravity of the accident . "We had no choice as the issue reached the top officials and the state government because of the media attention," said a source. Officials also said the 48-year-old had previous records of being involved in collisions and the cost incurred by the corporation following the accidents.   Officials said the driver was clearly overspeeding on the flyover. "The maximum speed for bus negotiating a curve is 25km per hour. But the bus must have been travelling at 45km per hour, resulting in the accident," said an MTC official.

MTC has since issued the dismissal order and it is reported that the driver now plans to move the court regarding his dismissal.   The officials have accused him of rash and negligent driving.   Reports further state quoting MTC Employees Progressive Union that they will take up the issue legally.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
25th October 2012

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