The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that three college girls died and four got injured in a road accident caused by a Metro Water Tanker Lorry in Guindy area of Chennai in Tamil Nadu. Reportedly, this was not the only accident caused by a water tanker lorry as the provisions of cancelling driving licenses in case of accidents under the Motor Vehicle Act are not being strictly implemented by the authorities in the State.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the news report are indicative of callous and sheer insensitive attitude of the Transport Department, Police as well as Chennai Metro Water Supply and Sewerage Board. Accordingly, it has issued notice to the Government of Tamil Nadu through its Chief Secretary and DGP calling for a detailed reports on this matter within four weeks. They have also been asked to inform about the norms relating to fitness of the water tanker Lorries, number of trips allowed, number of persons died in such accidents during last five years and preventive action taken against the erring drivers and the other officials of the department concerned. The Commission would also like to know what steps are proposed to be taken to prevent the recurrence in future.

It is the failure of the State Transport Authority to implement and enforce the rules and regulations, as also the apathy of police officials and other administrative officers that results in exposing the innocent citizens to all kinds of risks on road. The non-checking of actual persons at the wheels results in driving by incompetent minors as well as vehicles going out of control by drunken driving. The safety of citizens should be the primary concern of the government. The State Government cannot escape its obligation to protect the lives of its citizens from such preventable gruesome mishaps.

According to the media report, carried today on the 14th October,2106, the accident could be prevented, if commercial vehicles used for the public purpose were checked for road worthiness every six months in addition to the fitness certificate process that they undergo every year. The number of water lorries plying in the State is around 500 which are hired during the time of scarcity of water. Nearly 4000 trips are made in a day by these lorries. The officials of the Chennai Metro Water have reportedly stated that the vehicles involved in the accidents are not allowed to ply and their works orders are also cancelled. Area Engineers have been deployed at the filling points, to check leakage and necessary documents regarding fitness and insurance before the trip is made.

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