Jammu: It is staggering and unfortunate as well.
Over twenty persons have lost their lives in a span of just ten days in accidents – a recurrent feature on and along Srinagar Jammu National Highway which has already devoured over 1200 people in the last five years.
The figures encompass the death toll in the tragedy, which struck the Katra-bound bus near Jhajjarkotli, this morning.
Taking into account statistics of the last ten days with particular focus on five districts of Jammu region viz., Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban, Udhampur and Jammu, 21 people died in three major accidents on and along Srinagar Jammu National Highway.
The number of injured, many of whom would be facing the possibility of life-long disability, in these accidents crossed seventy.
It is not merely the figures yet the causes also are annoying.
Officially speaking, overloading, negligent and rash driving or simply observance of traffic rules in breach cover more than ninety percent of accidents.
Eye-witnesses and accident-survivors cite old vehicles, curvy and dilapidated roads and lack of parapets, crash barriers and sign-ages also as major reasons that account for the rest ten percent of accidents.
Officials, however, don’t fully corroborate these reasons as they link them with weather vagaries, which are beyond their control.
Inclement weather conditions, triggering landslides, tumbling of (shooting) stones leading to accidents, have been a major cause of accidents, all these years and in fact have accounted for a major part of lives lost in the last five years.
However, in the last ten days, human-error (read negligence) coupled with weather vagaries have created havoc.
Just sample this:
MAY 30, 2023: Ten persons were killed and 66 others injured when a Katra-bound bus fell from a bridge on Srinagar Jammu National Highway near Jhajjarkotli in Jammu in the morning.
In a separate accident in the evening, four persons were critically injured in a van accident after it (van) skidded off the Dalwass-Kadma link road near Peerah area of Chanderkote on Srinagar Jammu National Highway in Ramban district.
REASON: In case of Jhajjarkotli accident, as per police version, the driver lost control over the speeding vehicle while negotiating a sharp curve and it led to the accident.
Director General of Police (DGP) J&K Dilbag Singh, while speaking to media, too said that it (cause of accident) appeared to be “human-error” (by the exhausted and sleepy driver), though actual reason would only surface after the completion of investigation.
May 29, 2023: 4 persons, including a doctor, were killed and one person sustained injuries when the vehicle they were travelling in, rolled down 300 feet and landed on the banks of Chenab at Raggi nallah on Batote-Kishtwar stretch of National Highway in Doda district.
REASON: SSP Doda Abdul Qayoom was quoted saying that the accident occurred when the driver lost control over the wheel while overtaking another vehicle.
MAY 24, 2023: Seven workers of Pakul Dul hydel power project were killed and three others were injured when the vehicle they were travelling in, fell into a deep gorge in Kishtwar.
REASON: Deputy Commissioner Kishtwar Devansh Yadav was quoted in news reports saying that the accident took place amid heavy rains and locals corroborating his assertion added that the driver lost control while negotiating a sharp bend.
MAY 23, 2023: One biker was killed yet another person was injured in an accident at Mehar area on Srinagar Jammu National Highway in Ramban district.
MAY 22, 2023: One killed, five injured in an accident on Khari-Mahoo link road along Srinagar Jammu National Highway.
Moving beyond, for the purpose of records, as per official statistics quoted in an RTI reply, during the last five years up to March, 2023, 1200 people were killed and 8000 were injured in 6000 accidents which occurred in Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban and Udhampur districts.