Tuesday, February 26, 2008

In Public Interest

In Public Interest

While opposing something that may have adverse impact on communities is understandable, opposing should not become such a habit that we start opposing something that is entirely in the interest of the people! Look at the opposition of the south Goa Zilla Panchayat to the introduction of speed governors in heavy vehicles to curb road accidents. Everybody knows why there is opposition to the project from the bus and truck owners and operators as the installation of the equipment would check the speed of the vehicles and make them accountable. But it is difficult to find rationale of the Zilla Panchayat’s protest. How does the introduction of the system impact the functioning of the Zilla Panchayat?

This gives the impression that more than serving the interest of common people, the Zilla Panchayat is concerned over the welfare of the transport lobby. How could the Zilla Panchayat ignore the fact that fatal accidents on roads have registered abnormal rise in recent years due to rash driving? During 2007, 362 people lost their lives in road accidents in comparison to 302 in 2006. In 2005, 243 persons lost their lives. While in 2006, 58 pedestrians were killed, last year 61. Not surprisingly, two-wheeler riders make a large percentage of those who die or get seriously injured. In 2006, 125 riders and 38 pillion riders died. Ensuring road safety is not the responsibility of the government alone. Municipalities, panchayats, corporations and NGOs have to play a proactive role for making roads safe too.

Most people do not have a clear perception of the role and purpose of speed governors. It is an apparatus for limiting the speed of vehicles. The device plugs into the existing wiring system between the vehicle speed sensor(VSS) and the Engine Control Module (ECM). When the device is activated it over-rides the vehicle speed sensor and sends a driver-controlled, alternate speed signal to the computer. The driver sets the speed below the computer-programmed top road speed. The speed can be set within the range of 5 to 75 kmph. The function of governors, whether mechanical or hydraulic, is to control engine speed and correct any change in load applied or removed from the engine. It works on the basic principle of weights against spring pressure.

The main reason for opposition to this device is not the check on the speed of the vehicles, but the apprehension that it will expose the manipulative mechanism in ferrying loads. It is indeed shocking that the transporters for protecting their own interest were willing to sacrifice the people. Since the letters SWVS (single-weight variable speed) would be stamped on the governor identification plate it would become difficult to adopt manipulative methods. How could the south Goa Zilla Panchayat ignore the fact that it was rash driving that was responsible for most gruesome road accident on NH17 at Malpem in which 13 persons were charred alive? The driver of the oil tanker had violated traffic rules by indulging in rash driving at a dangerous bend on the highway. The accident could not perhaps have taken place had the vehicle been fitted with a speed governor.

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