The Orissa High Court has asked the State Head of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to cross the busy Bhubaneswar-Puri Highway at Chandanpur in Puri district with 2 school children in the peak hour to get to know the difficulties.
The Court said it as it was hearing the petition moved by Bimal Nandan Mohapatra seeking an underpass facility for pedestrians, particularly, for the school children at Chandanpur village between Bhubaneswar and Puri.
Earlier, the NHAI had decided not to provide pedestrian underpasses on the highways despite the accident-prone nature of the highway.The High Court, in a ruling on Monday, asked the Project Director of NHAI to videograph his road crossing with two school children and to furnish its proof to court, when it will conduct the next hearing on 13 March, 2023.
The court directed NHAI project director, Pravat Kumar Singh, in Bhubaneswar to file an affidavit underscoring the point whether it was easy or difficult for such young children to cross the busy highway at the Chandanpur village.
“The NHAI’s statement is that there is no need for any pedestrian underpass. What if pedestrians want to cross highways from one side to another? Do they have no right to cross? I don’t know what is this kind of approach? It is a human problem while the NHAI treats it as a purely technical problem. I don’t know how you do this,” Chief Justice Dr. Muralidhar observed during the hearing on Monday.
“The court is surprised at the stand taken by the NHAI as indicated in the affidavit dated July 21, 2022, wherein it is stated that the further decision of NHAI not to provide any pedestrian underpass on highways is due to its small size and it is intriguing as much as the need for villagers on either side of the Bhubaneswar-Puri section of National Highway 316 (old NH 203) is real, not imaginary”, said Chief Justice Dr. Muralidhar.