A PRIORITY CONCERN

Yet again a road accident left 2 persons killed when the car they were travelling in skidded off the road and fell into a deep gorge in Bhandarkut area of Doda district on the last day of 2017, thus once again reminding the people of this state of the successive state governments’ inability to initiate requisite measures to stop the unending trail of road accidents on the roads especially on the highways in hilly areas. Besides this it is also a reminder for the present government to deal with this vital issue on top priority in order to ensure that the New Year 2018 witnesses the least number of road accidents as compared to the previous years. This is not the first or the lonely case; such accidents are in vogue on all the highways in hilly areas including Doda, Poonch, Rajouri, Udhampur and the valley. 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. 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 an MLA 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, years passed by but not even a single recommendation was implemented by the government to prevent traffic accidents and the end result has been 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. However it was soon after the last Governor’s Rule was enforced in the state that due to personal interest of the Governor NN Vohra in bidding farewell to delays that a great stride was taken towards rolling out a road safety policy in this state. It is pertinent to mention here that 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 has failed to implement the standard rules for road safety. 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 but 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 be constituted as those performing duty on the hilly routes seem to turn blind eye towards the violators. Those concerned can’t be absolved of their negligence to ensure safe curves at least by fencing these with strong steel girders as has been done on Baramulla Uri Highway in the valley. It is hoped that the present government will take up the issue on top priority in this year to ensure that the progress made on road safety policy front will be accelerated at an unprecedented pace to bring an end to at least the avoidable accidents on the highways and roads of Jammu and Kashmir.