Of Cars Drowning in Wells and Falling Off Bridges

Bob Rupani Updated: January 16, 2023, 04:39 PM IST

Having driven almost all across our country in the last 40 years or so, I have seen and experienced countless amazing things. In fact if I had not explored India by road so extensively, I may not have loved and admired my country as much as I do. But it's also true that something's are so awful and unpredictable, that it gets really frustrating at times. In fact, whenever anybody asks me for any tips or advice before they embark on a long road trip in India, I always tell them, "Expect the unexpected. And be prepared for anything".

Of Cars Drowning in Wells and Falling Off BridgesTwo people died when a motorcycle and a car fell off an incomplete bridge near Raipur recently. Representative photo by Giancarlo Revolledo on Unsplash.

But how do you prepare for hidden open wells? Or incomplete bridges that are not barricaded and left unmarked and unattended for vehicles and people to fall of them. Yes, as per a report published in the Times of India on 13th December 2022, a government officer, his wife, and two of their companions died when their car fell into an open and concealed well located at the side of National Highway 30 in Chhattisgarh. Their families had filed a missing report and the police tracked their mobile location and found the car submerged in a well beside the highway.

Of Cars Drowning in Wells and Falling Off BridgesConstruction is done haphazardly in our country and open and unseen wells are a big problem too. Photo by Jamar Penny.

While I cannot say with any certainty what exactly happened, I would hazard a guess that for some reason they decided to pull off the highway and when the car was steered to the left, it fell straight into the well and literally disappeared underwater!

Of Cars Drowning in Wells and Falling Off BridgesYou rarely see such prominent signs and barriers that could prevent many accidents. Photo by Jamie Street.

There is undoubtedly a serious problem in our country of uncovered and unseen wells. One regularly hears of children falling into such wells and several times we have also had national news coverage of the army mounting operations to rescue these unfortunate kids. And it's also common to have tigers, leopards and other animals dropping into such wells. But this is the first time I have heard of an entire car disappearing into a well, resulting in the death of all four occupants.

Of Cars Drowning in Wells and Falling Off BridgesMaybe if there were clearly visible warning signs like this near the well and the bridge, those accidents could have been avoided. Photo by Tim Mossholder.

This is shocking and shameful. An open well with no boundary wall, no covering, no barricades or any warning signs whatsoever, and that too right beside a highway, is unbelievable and unforgivable. Even for a completely unpredictable India, where anything is possible.

Of Cars Drowning in Wells and Falling Off BridgesThe entire process of putting road signs in India needs to be reworked and made more effective. Photo by Lubo Minar.

If that is not bad enough, let me tell you about one more shocking incident. As reported by Times of India on 11th December 2022, a couple and their daughter on a motorcycle went up a flyover near Raipur, Chhattisgarh, only to find themselves plummeting from it into the canyon below. Both husband and wife died and the daughter was seriously injured.

Of Cars Drowning in Wells and Falling Off BridgesI don't recall ever seeing such a sturdy traffic barrier with a light in our country. Photo by Markus Spiske.

This is an under construction and incomplete flyover and there were no blockades, fences or warning signs of any kind to prevent motorists from going onto it. Just a few hours after this dreadful occurrence, a motorist drove up the very same flyover and his car too plunged down. The driver survived only because the airbag inflated and cushioned the impact.

Of Cars Drowning in Wells and Falling Off BridgesThese traffic barriers should be part of our "Make in India" mission and we should deploy them wherever needed all across our country. Photo by Matthew Hamilton.

The police have filed an FIR and an investigation is underway. And I will not be at all surprised if the findings say, "The motorists should not have gone on to the bridge as it was under construction". The fact that there was no way for them to know that it was incomplete and under construction, will conveniently be forgotten. Because "Oh Darling! Yeh Hai India! Where one should expect the unexpected".

Of Cars Drowning in Wells and Falling Off BridgesOne of the rare, well-marked road diversions I saw in Gujarat last year. This needs to become an all India SOP, or standard operating procedure. Photo by Bob Rupani.

All photos courtesy Unsplash