PRECIOUS LIVES LOST AGAIN

Yet again a road accident left at least twenty one persons dead and 16 injured when an overcrowded minibus heading for Ramban from Banihal, fell into a deep gorge after the driver lost control over the vehicle on Jammu-Srinagar national highway in Ramban district on Saturday morning. This tragedy is a reminder to those at the helm of affairs that they have failed to take optimum measures in preventing the mishaps. It is an acknowledged fact 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 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. Despite the House Committee coming up with a slew of recommendations to the Transport Department, Traffic Department, R&B Department and other agencies concerned for curbing rising road accidents, no improvement is visible on ground. Ironically, the end result continues to be 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. It is a fact that 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 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 and the number of accidents in J&K is far more than that in other Indian states with much more tough terrains 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 mainly those jam-packing their vehicles with passengers like loading flocks of sheep and goats. Even in the instant accident the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Doda-Kishtwar-Ramban range, Rafiq-ul-Hassan stated that the vehicle was overloaded which clearly indicates the lackadaisical attitude of the enforcement agencies. 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 under the dynamic leadership of the incumbent Governor will immediately focus on this vital issue to ensure that desired results are delivered. Though it is a fact that public can play a vital role in preventing road accidents by following the traffic rules strictly, yet the government can’t shirk its prime responsibility in this regard.