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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

the floor gives way ~woman has miraculous escape ... plight of buses

Till recently, there was this scenic passenger route – a 51 km track from Shengottai to Punalur that  had started way back in 1873 and took 27 years to complete. The first goods train ran in 1902 and passengers were on in 1904. The passengers would have a breath taking view of Western Ghats as the train passes through tunnels, the longest one being the one between Bhagawathipuram and Aryankavu. The journey provided pristine view of wild life sanctuary, captivating waterfalls, teak plantations, sandalwood plantations and freshwater mangroves. Remember that there was a movie in 1983 by name ‘Bhagavathipuram Railway gate’ starring Thiagarajan (father of Prashanth) with stirring music by Illayaraja.

Cinema is often interesting – there could be some illogical scenes, often they are only exaggeration of what one sees in the Society. ‘whether Cinema influences the Society, or whether it only reflects what happens in Society’ can be an unending debate !!!..   One of Kamal Hassan’s all time greats  is  ‘Indian’  [Hindusthani in Hindi; Bharatheeyudu in Telegu] - directed by S. Shankar. Kamal did dual role of a brave soldier Senapathy from INA who wants to set the corrupt society aright by handing out punishments and the other Chandru, a small-time broker outside the RTO (Road Transport Office) who gets people to high positions by accepting bribes and by crook becomes a brake inspector.  The corrupt officer after being bribed renews Fitness for a rickety  school bus which has faulty brakes – the bus meets with a grave accident killing many children and Chandru continues to bribe the officials trying to cover up.  The father Senapathy is bent on killing Chandru as a punishment.  In the climax, after a terrific chase, there is an explosion – in the epilogue, Senapathy surfaces in a foreign land talking over phone to say that ‘there will not ever be death for Indian’.

In July 2012, a little innocent 6 year old of Mudichur had a premature end to her life, occasioned by sheer negligence.  The unfortunate girl slipped through a hole on the floor of the school bus she was travelling and was run over by the rear wheel of the same vehicle.   As  Sruthi was about to get down nearer her home,  her little feet slipped into a gaping hole right under the seat, into the road below and was run over.  There were protests and mourning and slowly – things were forgotten….

Now a similar incident occurred at Punalur involving TN State transport bus, fortunately, the victim survived miraculously with minor injuries – reports the Hindu and many other newspapers.

A woman had a miraculous escape as she fell through the hole in the wooden floor of a moving Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation bus at Punalur in Kerala last week.  Reports state that even as the TNSTC bus, proceeding from Tenkasi to Kottarakkara in Kerala, was slowly coming out of the Punalur bus-stand , a portion of the wooden floor collapsed through which a 30-year-old woman standing near the rear entrance of the vehicle fell on the road. Though she escaped with minor injuries, the incident has brought to light the pathetic condition of TNSTC buses.

When a mishap of similar nature occurred at East Tambaram in Chennai, in which a student travelling in a school bus was crushed to death, a huge outcry that enveloped the State compelled the official machinery to initiate legal proceedings against the Regional Transport Officer who had given fitness certificate to the vehicle and the correspondent of the school. However, the TNSTC administration here is not much bothered about this mishap. “The Branch Manager (Tenkasi), Junior Engineer, superviser and the technicians concerned, who should have ensured the operational worthiness of the vehicle, have been placed under suspension. Moreover, the wooden floors of all buses in our fleet will be checked within 24 hours,” Gajendran, GM, TNSTC (Tirunelveli), said.

When asked about the allegation that the 50-mm wooden planks purchased for the floor of all TNSTC buses inducted in the fleet of this division two years ago were of poor quality, he denied it subtly, repeating that they would check the strength of the wooden floors within 24 hours. General secretary of CITU-TNSTC ridiculed the GM’s claim that the serious issue would be set right within 24 hours. “How is it possible for him to complete this exercise as the division has more than 1,600 buses? More importantly, no quality spare including the wooden plank is available here and hence completing the repairing work in all buses within 24 hours is not possible,” he said.

In an another news, The Hindu reports that the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court directed the Collector and road transport authorities to check operation of dilapidated buses by the TNSTC in Kanyakumari district a week ago, but the transport corporation still continues to operate condemned buses, according to president of Kanyakumari Zilla Consumer Protection Centre.  The officials conducted checks and prevented operation of a few of damaged buses, but the buses were again pressed into service following the intervention of peoples’ representatives,  it is stated.

The TNSTC (Nagercoil region) is operating about 820 moffusil and town buses from 12 depots. At least 50 per cent of the buses were badly damaged or in a condemned stage. Most of the town buses being operated in the region were condemned by other TNSTC divisions; roof of most of the buses was leaking. . Recently, the roof of a moving town bus was ripped off near Putheri due to heavy wind, said students of DVD Higher Secondary School. When contacted, regional transport authorities said that they had issued notices to two damaged buses in Nagercoil. The buses were repaired by TNSTC authorities and they would be produced before the RTO shortly. The other buses operated in the region were in perfect condition, they claimed. TNSTC officials maintained that they were undertaking repair works on buses at regular intervals.

Only when some serious accidents occur, it hits the news and for a brief while, officials are shaken ~many a times, things move on – though ‘all is not well’.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
23rd Sept. 2015

Photos credit : The Hindu.

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