WILL THE GOVT AWAKEN…?

Yet again a deadly road accident left seven members of a family dead when a vehicle they were travelling in skidded off the road and rolled down into a river in hilly Rajouri district thus adding another page to the history of road accidents in this state. Not only this, a 14-year-old girl was killed in another accident at Madina Hills in Bathindi after being hit by a private bus. As usual the ministers and others at the helm of affairs in governance will issue statements expressing deep grief and anguish over the loss of precious human lives besides expressing heartfelt sympathies with the bereaved families or at the most ex-gratia may be announced in favour of the survivors if any in the family of those killed. It is an irony that 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 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 multiple committees were framed to evolve a result oriented strategy to address this serious issue but the activities of such committees remained confined to seminars and lecture halls. Beginning from the eight-member House Committee, under the chairmanship of MLA Kulgam, Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami, constituted in March 2011 that submitted its report in April 2012 and the most significant initiative in the direction of road policy with special focus on accidents, no substantial results could be witnessed on ground till date. One conclusion can be easily drawn that the Transport Department, Traffic Department, R&B Department and other agencies concerned have utterly failed to curb the rising road accidents the end result being zero 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. The present position is such that road accidents, especially on National Highway in Jammu and Kashmir are assuming alarming proportion a fact that stands acknowledged by the Union Minister a number of times and urging the J&K state to implement standard rules and instructions road safeties to vehicle drivers especially on how to drive safe in mountainous regions. 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 especially in the North East states. 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 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. There is a dire need for the concerned departments to take serious note of the recurring accidents across the state and immediately focus on this vital issue. The question that once again arises is that will the government ever awaken?