Liquor vend ban ignored, deaths on wheels double

Chandigarh, September 11: The number of deaths in road accidents due to drunken driving in the state doubled in 2016 as compared with the figures for the previous year. The state has also earned the dubious distinction of being second in the nation on the accident severity (number of persons killed per 100 crashes) in such cases in 2016.


Harman Sidhu, president of NGO Arrive Safe, on whose petition the Punjab and Haryana High Court banned liquor vends along highways in March 2016, said the poor implementation and circumvention of the ban led to increase in deaths due to drunken driving in Punjab.

He says this on the basis of “Road Accidents in India” reports of 2016 and 2015, published by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) last week.

Haryana, on the other hand, recorded a fall in such deaths in 2016. The fatalities came down from 478 in 2015 to 165 in 2016, registering a reduction of 65.5 per cent. “This is because Haryana effectively implemented the ban on drunken driving,” he said.

However, to evade court orders, Punjab amended its Excise Policy on liquor in March 2016 permitting liquor vends to operate on the highways passing through municipal limits. According to the report, the number of such deaths increased in Punjab from 91 in 2015 to 197 in 2016—increase of 116.4 per cent. Cases of injuries also went up by 225.8 per cent.

Bihar, which prohibited liquor in April 2016, reported 14 per cent decline in road crashes and 9.5 per cent in fatalities as compared to 2015.

“The state stands second in severity index (number of persons killed per 100 crashes) in the country. While the severity index in hilly state Mizoram is 84.3 per cent, it is 73 per cent in case of Punjab.

Among the cities having more than 50 million population, Ludhiana has the highest severity index of 69.9 per cent, while Kochi has the lowest at 6.6 per cent.

Quoting information procured under RTI from the Excise Department, Sidhu said the number of liquor vends went up two fold in the past decade from 5,632 liquor vends in 2005-06 to 12,000 in 2016-17.

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