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Verna locals protest road deaths over 300 booked


Vasco/Margao: The villagers of Verna and Nuvem, along with Nuvem MLA Wilfred ‘Babashan’ D’Sa, expressed their outrage against the increasing number of accidents on the Morod junction on Verna bypass on NH-17, early Thursday, by blocking the road for about two hours, jamming traffic. The villagers were warned by the Goa police, including SP South Chandan Chowdhary, against causing inconvenience to the public.

In the evening, the Verna police registered a case against D’Sa and 300 others for blocking the national highway bypass at Verna. A case has been registered under Section 143, 147, 341, r/w 149 IPC, and Section 8(B) under the National Highway Act. “Under no circumstances can one block the national highway as the public faces difficulty. There could also have been emergency cases,” the police said.

About 8am, 300 villagers from Verna and Nuvem along with D’Sa gathered on the same road where, on Wednesday, two people lost their lives in two different accidents.

Traffic to and from Margao was brought to a halt. Verna police was immediately alerted and Verna PI Uday Parab rushed to the site along with a team of policemen. Later, SP South, DySP Mormugao Lawrence D'Souza, Mormugao PI Ninath Deulkar and Vasco PI Nolasco Raposo also reached the site of the protest along with their respective teams.

Even as police began talks with the protesters, asking them to clear the highway, the traffic was diverted to reduce difficulties of commuters.

The locals, however, refused to budge and demanded an immediate solution in the form of re installation of speed breakers. The PWD, assistant engineer Prasad Panandikar was summoned to the spot, who had to run for 4km to reach them, due to the traffic jam.

Panandikar, citing a circular received by the department, told protesters that speed breakers are not allowed on national highways and as such, if present, have to be removed. He, however, assured them that he would write to the ministry of road transport and highways asking for permission to put up speed breakers at the Morod junction. The entire process would take 15 days, at the very least, Panandikar said, to which locals said they could not wait that long and demanded immediate measures.

As an immediate and temporary measure, Panadikar said he would increase the height of the rumblers. On the demand for signboards, etc, he said the same could be done without the permission of the ministry of road transport and highways.

By 10am the Verna bypass was cleared.

D' Sa said, “Our basic demand is for speed breakers. Many accidents have taken place due to a lack of speed breakers, and it should stop now,” and added that the speed breakers at the Morod junction were not removed because of any circular, but for the BRICS summit.

“If the circular was the reason, they would have removed the speed breakers everywhere,” D’Sa said and that the department should be concerned about public safety.

D’Sa has written to the PWD asking it to construct an underpass at the Verna bypass, to reduce the number of accidents.

It may be recalled that on Wednesday morning, Ahmed Salman, 38, died after his two wheeler was hit by a passenger coach. In a second accident in the afternoon, Aishwarya Salelkar, 17, died after the two wheeler, which she was riding pillion, was hit by a truck. In what may be termed as a coincidence, Aishwarya had lost her uncle and 16-year-old cousin on the same road, 15 years ago.

After that incident the PWD had put speed breakers at the junction which were removed for the BRICS summit.

A senior citizen residing at Verna, Edwin Pinto told REPORTERS, “There is a need to re-install the speed breakers that were removed for the BRICS summit. These are badly required especially at the crucial cross junctions. Also a traffic policeman should be deployed at the spot. But, I feel the police are only interested in collecting fines instead of focusing on preventing fatal accidents from occurring. The main task of a traffic policeman should be to curb accidents by directing traffic and ensuring that motorists follow the traffic rules and regulations. Moreover, near the Verna petrol pump, the road alignment is wrong and this is an accident-prone area.”

Anzel Godinho, another citizen, said, “On Wednesday, there were two major accidents that occurred at Verna due to the removal of the speed breakers. Rumblers installed do not stop speeding vehicles. Their height needs to be increased similar to those at Bambolim.” Godhino added that the presence of fruit vendors near the junction cause problems as buyers stop to purchase their wares and block the vision of passing motorists.

South Goa collector Swapnil Naik has assured to re-install the speed breakers.

Citing the problems created by removal of speed breakers, Godinho, said that in Raia, too, there have been fatal accidents after the removal of the speed breakers.

Pradeep Salelkar is undergoing treatment and is our of danger. He hs sustained leg and other injuries. They were hit by Bharatgas truck on the turn. About 15 years back Salelkar's brother Santosh Salelkar was going to Panjim with his 16 year old son Manguerish Salelkar for cricket selections. Manguerish was a good cricket player. Their car met with accident on the same I'll fated road causing death of father first and then the son.

Source: Verna locals protest road deaths over 300 booked

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