SPECIAL REPORT / ANCHOR
Yet another accident took place in Jammu and Kashmir; yet five more people perished on the killer roads, yet a stream of condolences poured in, yet assurance kept flowing on streamlining the traffic but nothing really is happening on ground zero. Accidents have become a gloomy reality than rarity in this part of the country but nobody seems to be really bothered. Hardly a day passes without news about people falling prey to killer roads. Each time the accident takes place, the administration wakes up to the road safety, announces ex-gratia, issues condolence messages, orders probes and forgets all these before a new mishap occurs. However, last time around a resounding assurance came from the apolitical dispensation while viewing the growing menace of accidents rather seriously. Governor Satya Pal Malik asked the Transport Department to take away unfit vehicles and untrained drivers off the road and said that strong decisions would be taken in the SAC to check the menace. Previously also, during the gubernatorial rule a beginning in this regard had been made which failed due to malignant ‘administrative atmosphere’. It had been agreed that Information Technology would be applied for preparing a Comprehensive Accident Data Base Management and Analysis system to ascertain causes of road accidents and to devise effective approaches to eliminating these. It was also agreed to undertake regular Road Safety Audits and addressing all the contributing factors for fatal road accidents; upgrading roads, erecting protection barriers, creating adequate wayside facilities for the drivers and travelling public; developing emergency medical services and deployment of ambulances to attend to the emergencies arising out of road accidents. The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir had also made an intervention a few years ago to get the issues pertaining road management sorted out by the Administration. Terrorism and road mishaps due to traffic mismanagement are two big challenges confronting Jammu and Kashmir. Killer roads have taken more lives than the demon of terror. While bulk causalities, like the one in Kishtwar recently, get immediately noticed, those dying in day to day accidents find single column somewhere in the back pages of newspapers. One wonders whether anybody in any state department is maintaining the ‘day book’ of those who fall prey to negligent driving or get crushed under tippers or mini buses. And also, is there anyone at the top who feels pain of those losing dear ones and tries to fix the responsibility. It is not only the erring road users who create havoc, road managers are equally responsible. If there would have been an effective mechanism, heads would have since rolled for allowing overloaded passenger vehicles cross Nakas and meet accidents. There is no denying fact that many of the accidents have occurred due to over-loading and over speeding. Each passing day headlines scream about people getting killed but never ever do words come about action taken against the offenders. The road management in the State, especially in the twin capital cities, is in shambles. Someone is needed to be tasked to move around incognito in a private car without escort and advance information. He will come to know the connivance between some unscrupulous men in blue, enjoying patronage, and private traffic pliers. He will also find his fists clinched while covering just three kilometers of journey in not less than half an hour. Reason is, a section of passenger transport playing truant with the vehicles in their tail while dropping or picking up passengers. The public transport pliers are at liberty to stop anywhere; maintain any speed they like as per situation; position vehicles in any direction to stop the other vehicles pick passengers. They are least bothered about the vehicles at their tail end, no matter if any vehicle is in desperate rush to carry patients to hospitals. That is none of their business. How do they enjoy this special privilege? This will not be difficult to know, given multifarious agencies at the disposal of the administration to gather inputs. As far as people are concerned, they know what all is happening on the Jammu roads. They know where traffic cops get themselves positioned and for what purpose. At least the objective is not to manage the traffic. It is more than that. At times one is shocked to find traffic managers occupying isolated places and engaged with private carriages for obvious reasons. Such a mechanism is fraught with dangers for public life. On finding men in blues positioned at unspecified places, the private auto-drivers or others make every attempt to give them slip even if it means crushing the pedestrians or rubbing the passing by vehicles.
The madness on roads calls for special attention to set the system right, if not fully but to some extent at least.
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© 2017 State Times Daily Newspaper