The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) on Saturday night carried out repair work in Haridwar, where cricketer Rishabh Pant met with an accident on Friday.
The move came after Delhi and District Cricket Association director Shyam Sharma, who visited Pant at the Max Hospital in Dehradun, told media persons that the cricketer was trying to avoid a pothole when his car hit the divider.
A team from NHAI inspected the accident site on Saturday afternoon to look into the reasons for the accident. They, however, had to face the wrath of locals who entered into an argument with them over their “lackadaisical” attitude in addressing the shortcomings on that particular stretch of the National Highway 58 that connects Delhi with Haridwar. Locals said that “some people in an inebriated state” entered into an argument and were subsequently picked up by the police.
Meanwhile, chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami met Pant at the Dehradun hospital on Sunday.
“The cricketer told me that he saw a pothole-like depression and something black while driving following which he lost balance.”
“The cricketer’s health has seen much improvement in the last two days. BCCI officials are in constant touch with the doctors of the hospital. I have spoken to the doctors. According to them, his health will see more improvement in a day or two. His mother and family are satisfied with the treatment. We all are praying for his speedy recovery. We will ensure he gets the best possible treatment,” the chief minister added.
However, NHAI project director, Roorkee PS Gusain has denied that there were no potholes on Narsan and Mangalore stretch of the Delhi-Haridwar highway.
He, however, admitted that a rajwaha (canal) running along the road (before it takes diversion) encroaches the road which decreases the road width and they have been working to address the issue for a year.
“There were no potholes on Narsan and Mangalore stretch of the Delhi-Haridwar highway but road undulations, and their team only carried out patchwork to smoothen the road. The road width decreases near the accident site due to a canal passing along the road encroaching on it. We have been taking up the matter with the irrigation department to address the issue. We requested the irrigation department to shift the canal but their officials said there is private land all around and that’s why it’s not possible. We also sent letters to the district administration for shifting of the canal so that we can widen the portion of the highway,” he told HT.
“What the cricketer is describing as a pothole could just be a ripple on the road,” he added.
PS Panwar, chief engineer of the irrigation department, Haridwar, said, “We have told NHAI that they can shift the canal after getting a non-objection certificate from us.”
Arvind Rathi, general secretary of Bharatiya Kisan Union BKU (Tikait), said “We have been requesting NHAI and local administration to repair the damaged road and fill potholes which have taken the lives of many locals in the past year. NHAI swung into action on a foggy night after a high-profile accident. Do our lives not matter?”
“I argued with the NHAI team when they visited the accident site and asked why they took so long to wake up. Some people in an inebriated state had entered into an argument with the NHAI workers and were subsequently picked up by the police.”
On Friday, the cricketer had told the Haridwar police that he dozed off at wheel and lost the balance of the car which resulted in the accident.
The Uttarakhand police on Saturday said that Pant wasn’t speeding and was not under the influence of alcohol. CCTV footage of the incident showed the car driven by the cricketer hit the road divider near his home town Roorkee, seemingly at high speed.
The 25-year-old, who suffered injuries on his forehead and right knee and abrasions on the back, was rescued by a driver and a conductor of a Haryana Roadways bus. He was first taken to a Roorkee hospital, from where he was transferred to the Max Hospital, Dehradun.
The chief minister on Sunday announced that his government will honour the driver-conductor duo of Haryana Roadways who rescued the cricketer.
“Not worrying about themselves, the driver-conductor duo of Haryana Roadways saved the life of the cricketer. We have decided to honour them on the Republic Day event,” Dhami said.