On the night of March 19, 2013, a bus fell off a bridge onto the dry bed of a rivulet 40 feet below at Khed in the Konkan region of Maharashtra, killing 37 passengers. This is supposed to be the worst tragedy on what most of the newspapers described as the ‘treacherous’ Goa-Mumbai stretch of NH66.

bus-crash-india

Loss of 37 innocent lives is indeed a tragedy; but a greater tragedy is the fact that we have not done anything about this ‘treacherous’ situation. Look at that bridge – built some hundred years ago. No, I am not criticizing the governments who might have neglected the maintenance or improvement of the highway. A lot of blame does go to them. But, in a democracy, the action or inaction of a government always has roots in the mindset of the people that it represents; at the end of the day – or should I say the 5 year period – the government does what fetches power to it; and what fetches power is what pleases the people. The NH66 is an example I am using. So do not look at it with a distant focus. Check up – that may be true of what’s happening closer to you.

Goa-Mumbai stretch of NH66 has very heavy passenger traffic; everyday over hundred buses run on this route. Konkan Railway runs hugging the roadway. Why cannot a better part of this load be diverted to the railway ? That would mean plying more trains; for the trains currently running get full almost 120 days in advance. So more trains would require doubling the tracks and other capacity enhancing measures. Do we want that ?

If we go by the strong resistance to the laying of the KR tracks 23 years back, we definitely do not want that. For that shall “cause destruction of ecology, damage to historical sites and disrupt the lifestyles of people in the densely populated coastal region”.

Choice reveals preference, said Paul Samuelson.