Curbing Accidents On National Highways
The National Highways have been witnessing the worst kind of road fatalities. Unfortunately, deaths due to road accidents are considered routine in the country. Defective structure of roads, abominable road conditions, tipsy drivers – all these are common causes of road mishaps. Authorities are oblivious of the ground realities, or they seem so. In the Tiruppur road accident in Tamil Nadu, close to Avinashi village, there may have been a combination of factors. A container truck containing tiles crossed the 30-centimetre high median to hit a luxury Volvo bus coming from the opposite side so badly that 19 bus passengers lost their lives and 23 were grievously hurt. Reports say the truck driver was asleep at the wheels on the busy Coimbatore-Salem National Highway. Arduous shift duties, long working hours, paucity of extra driver and sleep disorders may all lead to a driver dozing off while commanding a vehicle. Studies have found out that lack of quality sleep may lead to chronic fatigue akin to post-alcohol tiredness. From 4 am to 6 am is identified as the most vulnerable period for driver fatigue, and the Tiruppur tragedy occurred around 4 am. Taking a break after prolonged work hours, frequent rest after driving for a long period, napping when drowsy, ensuring another licenced driver in the vehicle, persisting with a steady speed unmindful of time pressure – these are ways a driver can avoid accidents. However, in public transport, will the passengers permit a driver to enjoy these ‘luxuries’? Is it the destiny of the working class to remain exposed to accidents? Can a truck overload itself with containers? Were the employers of the truck blissfully unaware of the hazards posed by morbid vehicles and drivers? Was it wilful ignorance? Is the working class adequately remunerated for its hard work? Can a government dust its responsibilities off? These questions are not ideas, they are challenges.
GANAPATHI BHAT, AKOLA
Non-packaged Food Items
It is observed that at the local sweet shops loose sweets are sold by displaying them in trays and containers. At present, it is necessary to display ‘best before date’ and ‘date of manufacture’ only on labels of pre-packaged and pre-packed sweets. It is understood that there have been reports of several instances of sale of stale/expired sweets to consumers posing potential health hazard. However, now all this will change. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued direction that local sweet shops will have to display the ‘best before date’ and ‘date of manufacture’ on non-packaged or loose sweets displayed in the sweet shops from June 1, 2020. While this direction has been issued for sweet shops in the national capital Delhi, food safety commissioners of all states have been asked to ensure compliance to these directions. It is observed that in Goa there are several sweet shops operating in every city and village. The authorities in the state need to be strict in implementing in the state this direction from the FSSAI. It would be desirable not to restrict this requirement only to sweets but extend it to all non-packaged eatables, which are stored for long periods of time.
ADELMO FERNANDES, VASCO