1 BUS FOR 1142 PERSONS IN DODA, KISHTWAR, RAMBAN
Overloading, poor enforcement, bad roads cause fatalities
Srinagar, June 14: It is an unprecedented official apathy: there is just one passenger vehicle for about 1142 persons in Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban districts of Jammu division, leading to overloading and recurring road accidents.
According to Traffic info 2010, the J&K Traffic Department’s annual publication, there are just 747 passenger vehicles for a population of 8,53434 persons in the three districts, given the vehicle-human population ratio for 2009. Similar is the situation with Rajouri and Poonch districts, where there is one vehicle for 726 and 582 persons respectively. The figures in the five districts are a glaring example of official apathy and negligence, notwithstanding recurring accidents in these districts which claim hundreds of lives every year. In Srinagar and Jammu districts, the passenger-vehicle population ratio is 1: 56 and 1:67 respectively.
The inadequate public transport leads to overloading in the five hilly districts, which is one of the major causes of accidents there. At least 695 people have lost their lives in 1926 accidents in Doda, Ramban, Poonch, Rajouri, and Kishtwar in 2008-2009. This is in addition to 2989 people who have sustained injuries, minor and critical, in these accidents.
Sources said there were not more than 60 traffic officials posted in the five districts to man the mounting vehicular population. And of them, there is hardly a cop seen manning the highways, which are prone to accidents. “Inadequate transport obviously causes overloading which ultimately leads to accidents,” said Najam Chaudhary, a resident of Poonch. “We have many a time seen cops allowing heavy overloading in passenger vehicles which ultimately skid off the road. There is also poor enforcement from the cops, but the basic problem is inadequate public transport and poor road maintenance.”
Sources said the buses have a permit to carry less than 30 passengers, but the drivers carry over 50. “In absence of traffic cops on highways, overloading is a norm. And then many drivers in hilly areas don’t have a driving license. There is nobody to fine them. And even if they are fined sometimes, the problem persists,” they said.
The department has called for a survey to examine how much public transport was required in the districts so that the overloading was done away with and accidents were minimized.
Apart from overloading, the traffic department has blamed “bad roads” for frequent accidents in these areas. “These roads are often wavy (comprising of frequent ups and downs), zigzag (comprising of depressions and projections) etc. They are uneven and dicey and not straight and smooth to satisfy the requirements of safe roads. Such roads are often prone to road accidents,” the Traffic Info mentions.
Citing an example of 2006 road accidents on Darhal-Rajouri road in which 54 people lost their lives, the publication mentions that poor road geometry was found to be one of the root cases of the accident, in which the bus plunged 200 feet Darhali Nallah. Interestingly, there is not a single full-fledged trauma centre in these districts, which could help minimize casualties during accidents. The requisite workshops are also non-existent in these districts forcing drivers to set their vehicles right themselves. “Poor maintenance of vehicles is also a cause of accidents,” the Traffic info reads.
The Traffic Department has called for establishment of trauma centers, Road Disaster Management Police, Call Centers in these districts.
Pertinently, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had in February said that the fleet of SRTC buses in erstwhile Doda district would be augmented by 30 buses to avoid overloading and cater to the commuters’ needs. “Quick response teams equipped with men and machinery would be stationed in the accident prone areas for immediate rescue measures,” he had said on Floor of the House.
Sources said the promise is yet to be translated into reality.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 14 Jun 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 14 Jun 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 15 Jun 2010 00:00:00 IST
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