Humped & Barricaded: Time to wake up !
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Humped & Barricaded: Time to wake up !

February 3, 2024

Six days ago, within 12 hours, between 9 pm and 9 am, 20 people met with accidents. Three young men lost their lives. Two young women become widows. Three children became fatherless. Three families lost their primary breadwinner and three families were destroyed…all because of two unscientific road humps.

Shockingly, not a single MLA has been outraged enough to speak up. No contractor has been punished. No official has been suspended. No one has been held accountable! 

Road humps and barricades have become a menace on our city roads. Humps are laid unscientifically and barricades are placed erratically. While one is a death trap, the other causes traffic jams.

Do we need them? Yes, we need speed-breakers to force people to slow down at certain intersections, but speed-breakers should not turn into skull-crackers and bone-breakers. Unscientific road humps, like on Bogadi Road, are self-defeating — what was meant to save lives took lives.

Why can’t the MCC insist on putting rumblers — a series of small road humps that force one to slow down their vehicle rather than one huge hump that could send a motorist flying to his death or a barricade that holds up traffic on one side?

Road hump in our city is like a mirage; you think it’s there, but when you get closer, it’s not there; it’s just a faded zebra crossing. Then as you keep driving, thinking it’s a smooth black road, the hump suddenly appears, like the Grim Reaper in the dark; by then, it’s too late.

Contractors in Karnataka don’t know how to build humps, it seems. In 2019, the then Karnataka Public Works Minister C.C. Patil admitted that 99 percent of speed-breakers on the State’s highways and roads are ‘unscientific’.

According to Indian Roads Congress (IRC) guidelines, a hump should have a central height: 10-12 cm; Shape: Parabola; Width: 3.5 metres; Length: Same as road width. That is only the structural design part.

The other important part is to make the road- user aware of its presence. For this, the IRC states that the road humps should be painted with a ‘V’ shape and illuminated with a cat’s eye along the ‘V’ lines.

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 Our officials paint it like a zebra crossing! What are they thinking? Build one unscientific hump with confusing marking and get two victims free? A pedestrian and a motorist?

IRC also says that the humps should not be more than five metres (16 feet) away from an intersection. It then adds, stating that two reflective sign boards — one at 20 to 30 metres and another 10 metres before the hump should be placed to warn the drivers — ‘hump ahead’.

Has our administration followed these dictates? No. Sadly even Praveen Sood, the former Police Commissioner of Mysuru, who was praised for instilling fantastic traffic rules and facilities in another country — Mauritius, could not solve the road hump problem in Mysuru.

Praveen Sood too made a mistake. He ordered scientifically approved road humps to be placed at strategic places in the city. What was the problem then?

The road humps he ordered were scientifically designed for concrete and asphalt roads but our roads are not concrete and the asphalted roads are not thick enough because some of the thickness had gone into the lining of political pockets.

So in just three months, the rubber road humps came apart, and soon, long metal screws that held the humps became exposed, posing a major traffic hazard. Mercifully, Praveen Sood introduced these road humps only as an experiment and did not take this project any further.

The Supreme Court, while calling road accident deaths in India “a tragedy that arises only due to lack of concern by authorities,” also rued, saying, “Unfortunately, no criminal action is taken against authorities for their negligence.” It then sought a response from the Government on how to address this problem.

This is like asking the fox to decide how to protect the chicken coop? After all, in most cases, the lawmaker forces the bureaucrats to give public works contracts to their ‘party’- approved contractors. Then why will they prosecute their own?

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According to the Motor Vehicle Act 2019, contractors, consultants and concessionaires will be held accountable for faulty road design and safety standards. It says they will also be legally punishable with a fine of up to Rs. 1 lakh in case of a road accident that results in death or disability. Will the MCC implement this? Nah! 

Student Unions, NGOs and activists make some noise

There is a saying — “Find out just what people will quietly submit to, and you have the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them.”

What this means is silence is golden in personal matters. When it comes to the issues of the city where you live, you’ll be doomed if you are silent.

In recent years, as a city that was once very protective of its lakes, air, water, and public facilities, we have now become silent as our city is systematically being destroyed. What is surprising is the silence of civil activists and student unions who protest at the drop of a hat for politically motivated causes.

Why the silence on issues that matter — local issues — such as saving Chamundi Hill or road humps that kill youngsters, parents and fellow citizens?

Interestingly, yesterday, Anveshana Seva Trust, an NGO, requested permission to protest about the killer road humps, but permission was denied! It’s time NGOs, student unions and civil activists fought for a safer Mysuru.

Officers and politicians come and go, but we Mysureans have to live here. We cannot let them ruin this city and move on to the next posting. We have to hold them accountable. It will keep the next officer in check. 

If we are silent, it means we are OK with official apathy and incompetence. If that’s our attitude, then there will be more unscientific humps in our city, and Mysuru, now known as the Royal City, will become the ‘Royally Humped City’.

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