The national highways junctions in Kendrapara district are doubling up as vegetable markets, becoming a major cause for rise in road accidents. The traffic junctions at places like Gopa chowk, Silipurgada and Paradipgada have turned into vegetable ‘mandis’.

As a result, it has become a nightmarish experience four motorists to negotiate the bustling crowd right on the highway. The highway has turned into a bustling marketplace. With the vendors occupying the highway, the highway has susceptible to recurring road accidents.

The vendor has their market sheds built close to the highway. However traders have shifted their business to the highway. Sadly the authorities have turned their blind eye to it, said a road safety campaigner, Kamal Lochan Sarangi. The NH chaos of this form is more or less the same in strategic junctions like Silipurgada, Haldiagada, Paradipgada and Kujang.

These places hit by NH encroachment have accounted for nine human casualties since past one month. As the vegetable mandis operate on the highway, it leads to unauthorised parking. With Highway space grabbed by parked vehicle, the speeding vehicles meet with accidents at those specific spots, he said.

Faulty driving, unregulated vehicular traffic, straying of cattle into busy roads, the violation of road safety norms have all contributed to the rise in the mishaps on the highways traversing through both the coastal districts. The highway has come under roadside encroachment in strategic traffic junctions.

The drivers are parking their vehicles on the road side instead of at the assigned lay-bys. Majority of accidents recorded in recent past were the result of vehicles hitting the parked ones. Overspeeding and drunken driving are also attributed for spurt in road mishaps.

Police would launch a drive to do away with highway squatting. The roadside parking of vehicles would also be sternly dealt with, said Rajib Lochan Panda, Sub Divisional Police Officer.