Editorial |Another Tragedy

The road traffic deaths in our state are unceasingly on the increase. Sadly, every highway and motorway has become a death-trap. Contrary to the fall in the number of traffic accidents in many other states due to adherence to traffic rules and successful interventions such as prevention of overloading, implementation of speed limits, enforcement of seat belt safety laws, and penalising drunk drivers, there has been an increase in traffic accidents in our state. Monday, dawned with one of the most tragic traffic accidents in the state in the recent past. More than Thirty commuters lost their life in Kishtwar district when a minibus skidded off the road and plunged into a deep gorge. The accident occurred at 8.40 AM when the bus from Keshawn was on its way to Kishtwar. The overloaded mini-bus carried passengers more than double its capacity. The tragedy that left scores of family mourning came hard on the heels of the dance of death on the Moghul Road. Three days earlier, nine girl student and two others died, and five others were critically injured when a small passenger vehicle on way to Shopian from Poonch skidded off the road and plunged into a deep gorge in Lal Ghulam area, near a Peer Ki Gali.

Reportedly, the permit of the vehicle carrying the girl students to a picnic spot on the historic road had expired two years back, but still the vehicle was plying on the hilly road without a mandatory roadworthy certificate. A couple of days earlier, two died, and six others were injured in a road accident in Rajouri. There can be no denying that the Border Roads Organization, which is tasked to maintain and upgrade the Jammu-Srinagar and Srinagar-Ladakh highways has done a commendable job in building roads in the Ladakh region and has been putting its efforts to improve the Jammu and Srinagar. Nonetheless, no significant effort has been made to upgrade roads in the Chenab Valley and Pir-Panjal region. Most of the roads in the two region are death traps. If a proper census is done, the deaths caused by traffic accidents in these areas will outnumber all other forms of disaster. Besides, the condition of roads in the hilly areas and failure of the government to construct tunnels in accident-prone areas, traffic department for its apathy is mostly responsible for road accidents. The department has failed to prevent overloading in the passenger vehicles. Had the traffic police stopped the bus on the way to Kishtwar from overloading, these lives would be saved, and equally had it not allowed not-roadworthy coach from plying on the Moghul Road, girl student would not have died.