One dead as school bus hits NDMC gardeners on cycle

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An NDMC gardener died and his colleague sustained serious injuries after the bicycle on which they were travelling was hit by a private bus carrying school children near Khan Market Friday. While 59-year-old Rajender Prasad was killed on the spot because of head injuries, 46-year-old Rajender Singh sustained fractures in his legs, injuries to his spine, neck and head, officials from Ram Manohar Lohia hospital said. The victims were employed as gardeners and were posted with the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) enquiry office.

Police are yet to trace the errant driver, who abandoned the bus and fled the spot, leaving the children and teachers behind. Singh was riding the bicycle and Prasad was sitting behind him. “The bus came from the rear and hit them. We have registered a case of rash and negligent driving at Tughlak Road police station,” said DCP (New Delhi) Madhur Verma.

Police questioned children and teachers from Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya, Burari, who were at the time en route to visit the Lotus Temple near Nehru Place, but did not unearth anything conclusive, an officer said. The PCR call was made at 11.16 am and a police team reached the spot to find the private bus, the broken bicycle and blood on the spot, the officer said.

Colleagues of both gardeners said they had been coming to work on bicycles every day for the last two decades, travelling 20 km to get there from home. Once they got to work, they would punch in and take their bicycles to run errands.

Prasad had bought a scooter around four months ago, tired of the exhausting bicycle rides, but ended up fracturing his left arm in an accident and started taking the bus to work.

“Many of us come from Ghaziabad and other small towns, taking a train every day. After that we usually take a bus to reach Khan Market. But since Prasad and Singh were locals from Mahavir Enclave and Sagarpur, respectively, they came on their bicycles,” Surender, a gardener with NDMC, said.

NDMC Horticulture Director S Chellaiah told The Indian Express, “We give them cycling allowance and other travel allowance. We have also made them DTC bus passes. After reporting for work, they take bicycles due to the ease of access.”

On the need for dedicated bicycle lanes, an NDMC official said: “The NDMC has tried to introduce bicycle lanes and has been designating footpaths with low footfall and service lanes as bicycle tracks. The project has already moved forward in Tilak Marg, KG Marg, Aurobindo Marg and Lodhi Road.”

In December last year, the NDMC had introduced 300 smart bikes at 50 stations in New Delhi area, and has been thinking of introducing 200 more this year. “We have so far introduced around 50 smart bikes this year,” the official said.

The NDMC welfare department is currently finalising the compensation to be paid to family members, and have already paid Rs 50,000 to Yogesh, Prasad’s son, to conduct the final rites. “Just two days ago, my father got his plaster removed. But he could not drive a scooter yet,” Yogesh said.

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