New Delhi, June 4 :
Senior BJP leader and union minister Gopinath Munde’s death could have been prevented had he worn his car seat belt while travelling, said Health Minister Harsh Vardhan Wednesday.
Munde, a senior minister who looked after three portfolios, including rural development, died after an early morning road accident in Delhi Tuesday.
“I lost my friend to a misconception. Most people think the seat belts on the back seat serve only a decorative purpose. In fact, wearing them is as necessary as wearing front seat belts. They can save lives in the event of impacts,” Harsh Vardhan said here before leaving for Munde’s funeral in Maharashtra.
The health minister said that though the damage to Munde’s car was not significant, the force with which he was thrown forward within the confined space of the vehicle damaged a joint in his neck and severely injured the spinal cord.
“The blood vessels carrying blood supply to the brain stem (which is the seat of respiratory and cardiac centre) got disrupted and this became a cause for immediate cardiac and respiratory arrest. Besides, the liver was ruptured which caused profuse loss of blood,” he said, according to an official release.
“I feel numbed by the realization that the nation has lost such a valuable mass leader and an able minister with a proven track record in Maharashtra. I now realize the trauma of countless others whose near ones die in car crashes only because they had overlooked the importance of the seat belt,” he said.
Harsh Vardhan said the health ministry will soon take the initiative to make people aware of safety protocols while driving.
“A multi-media campaign in collaboration with NGOs working on safety is being considered,” the health minister said, adding that the focus would be on the child victims of accidents.
The minister felt there should also be a degree of coercion in making people wear seat belts.
“I would seek the cooperation of the associations of petroleum dealers all over the country to utilise the pumps as points of interface with car and bike users. Perhaps a system could be developed under which petrol and diesel sales can be denied to those who don’t use seat belts and helmets,” he said.
“Let us regard the Gopinath Munde tragedy as a turning point,” he said.