An inspection report by the transport department’s lead agency has uncovered a fraud in the driving test process linked to the fatal Rudraprayag accident on June 15, which claimed 15 lives. The report revealed that the online fee for endorsing mountainous routes on the driver’s licence was paid after the accident, indicating that “someone else completed the online test and fee submission on behalf of the driver.”

The report recommended reinstating the earlier system of physical examinations for drivers to prevent such fraud. It was also discovered that the driver was inexperienced on mountain routes and was speeding at the time of the accident.

Currently under review at the Dehradun headquarters, the report detailed that the Tempo Traveller vehicle broke through five parapet blocks before plunging 250 meters into the Alaknanda river. The vehicle rolled several times and partially submerged, with some passengers thrown onto the slope during the fall. The severity of the accident might have been reduced if connected crash barriers had been installed instead of parapet blocks.

Assistant Regional Transport Officer (ARTO) Rudraprayag, Pramod Karnatak, confirmed that the issue of the licence fee is being investigated, including the timing of the fee submission. Another official, speaking anonymously, noted that the crash barriers at the site were not connected.

The government has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the accident, the worst of the summer season. The officials involved noted that the road from Rishikesh to Rudraprayag, part of the All-Weather Char Dham Road project, was in good condition with a speed limit of 30 km/h. However, many vehicles were observed speeding, endangering lives.

The report suggested installing rumble strips, white markings, and other measures to enforce speed limits at accident-prone spots. It also indicated that the driver likely lost control due to speeding and sleep deprivation, having driven continuously for over 11 hours.

Additionally, the report highlighted the need to improve parking arrangements in Shivpuri, Devprayag, Dhari Devi temple, and Brahmapuri to reduce traffic jams caused by roadside parking. Drivers often speed to make up for time lost in traffic, increasing the risk of accidents.

Joint Transport Commissioner Sanat Kumar Singh stated that the department would “consider all the points to improve the situation and act accordingly.”