RASH AND NEGLIGENT DRIVING…?

Yet again a road accident left 3 persons killed and 32 injured previous night when a mini bus they were travelling in overturned near Challari Ramkote at Dhar Road in Udhampur due to rash and negligent driving by the driver. Road accidents in this state have become a routine affair with the leaders and legislators besides the concerned authorities doing mere lip service for few days and announcing ex-gratia in favour of the victims and their families. Whenever an accident resulting in deaths takes place, those in governance promise the moon to ensure that the rate of road accidents in the state is reduced to a bare minimum but it is quite unfortunate that the tempo built at the time of accident seems to wane away in the air within a few days. The end result is that the rate of fatal road accidents continues to maintain an upward graph till date. During successive governments in the state the government framed multiple committees to evolve a result oriented strategy to address this serious issue but the activities of such committees remained confined to seminars and lecture halls. An eight-member House Committee, under the chairmanship of MLA Kulgam, Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami, was constituted in March 2011 and it submitted its report in April 2012. The House Committee came up with a slew of recommendations to the Transport Department, Traffic Department, R&B Department and other agencies concerned for curbing rising road accidents. Ironically, over six years have passed but no substantial progress seems to have been made in this regard as is evident from the recurring fatal accidents, be it the hilly routes of the mountainous state or even the plain highway from Jammu City to Lakhanpur. In this context the statement of the Union Transport Minister, Nitin Gadkari while commenting on road accidents in J&K deserves special mention. A couple of years back he had said “Road accidents, especially on National Highway in Jammu and Kashmir, are assuming alarming proportions. In every state there are standard rules and instructions for vehicle drivers about how to drive safe in mountainous regions but unfortunately the state of Jammu and Kashmir is not implementing the standard rules for road safeties.” It is a fact that the hilly State of Jammu and Kashmir is not the lone example where the National Highway and other link roads pass over hills and gorges and the bitter truth is that the number of accidents in J&K is far more than that in other Indian states with much more tough terrain and topography. In order to bring down the graph of rising accidents in the state there is a dire need to go tough against the traffic violators for which special checking squads comprising men of integrity need to be constituted as those performing duty on the hilly routes seem to turn blind eye towards the violators mainly those jam-packing their vehicles with passengers like loading flocks of sheep and goats. The state government should go through the research work conducted by the Union Ministry of Road Transport on increasing road accidents, which emphasizes that lack of education, enforcement, engineering and emergency are the main reasons for the growing accidents. It is hoped that the Transport Department of Jammu and Kashmir will immediately focus on it to ensure that desired results are delivered. No doubt public can play a vital role in preventing road accidents by following the rules properly, yet the government can’t shirk its prime responsibility in the matter. Even the Governor NN Vohra had shown personal interest to involve experts and stake-holders to formulate a road safety policy and it is expected that the incumbent Government will take due note of the ground work done under the guidance of Governor and address this significant issue at the earliest, failing which people will say it’s not ‘Killer Roads’ but ‘Killer Authorities’.