There has been a considerable increase in vehicular traffic during last few years resulting in a surge in traffic accidents too. Government has taken several measures to minimise traffic jams. New roads, Highways, Circular roads have been constructed to avoid traffic jam in different parts of J&K.
In J&K we witness a sharp rise in accidents and every alternate day we witness loss of precious human lives. There are multiple reasons for accidents like rash driving, using mobile phones while driving as well as driving without helmet in case of two wheeler.
There is a strong public opinion that Department of Traffic police has failed to discharge its duty with efficacy and if the Department would have adopted a concrete strategy to deal with the situation, the graph of accidents could have been low. Some believe that Department is only acting as 'Revenue Agency' and that has defeated the actual cause of regulating traffic.
After due contemplation, I found this Department very serious in revenue collection but callous in regulating traffic in both regions of J&K. To correct my perception I filed an RTI in the Department of Traffic Police to get information from both Jammu as well as from Kashmir Division. The figure provided by the Department proved my belief. The Department has earned crores of rupees during last five years as “Challan” and “Fine” but even has not utilised its one percent on Traffic Awareness for general public.
The Department has no road map to deal with traffic problems and its approach is awful. The Department is working on a sole agenda of “Fine” and “Challan” from dusk to dawn. Now as the Smart phones and E-Challan have been introduced the revenue generation is expected to double than last year.
The Challan graph goes so high, even now Lower Courts are over-burdened with these Challans. The figure of accidents revealed in RTI is alarming, especially in Chenab Valley and Pir Panchal region which is a serious concern and the matter needs an astute approach to avoid further loss of human lives.
It has also been observed that Traffic Police Personal are behaving pathetically with owners of vehicles, those having deficiency in documents. Number of times people are humiliated during checking of documents by Traffic Police.
Police personal posted in different wings of Police are transferred to Traffic Police as per their rank and position. These personal often lose their patience during duty hours.
It is a professional requirement and ethical imperative for higher officials of J&K Police to train the new-recruited personal before deployment, especially in Chenab Valley, on National Highway as well as on other sensitive spots of the region. The relations between the Department and Public is not friendly.
Every year from 11- Jan to 17-Jan Department of Traffic Police organises Traffic Week. During this period Department under their respective Officials are supposed to educate public to follow traffic rules. But this week too is utilised for “Challan” as the Department is hell bent to recover a huge sum as fine during this week too.
If Department is so concerned about the safety of general public, then they may be asked how many tow cranes they have in case of emergency, how many “Ambulances” they have purchased to ferry the injured in case of an accident, as we have witnessed the loss of human lives on roads due to failure of timely first-aid, and loss of blood. If the officials of Traffic Police are of opinion that recovery of fine can minimise accidents rate, then why it has not declined even after recovery of crores of rupees during last six years in the shape of Fine and Challan.
Department of Traffic Police has failed to prepare a comprehensive Traffic Plan for minimising Traffic accidents and to avoid Traffic jams. Only cosmetic measures have been used to ease traffic problems. When schools after winter vacation opened, the Department communicated to Education Department for change of school timing; why not this order executed for Civil Secretariat and other Government employees? To avoid further loss of human lives the L.G Administration should take effective steps and should engage experts to finalise a concrete plan for J&K.
Traffic signals though have been installed in different parts of Valley but there is no proper monitoring system as these lights usually remains defunct due to one or the other reason. Maximum people living in the region follow all rules and regulations laid by the Department but a proper guidance is needed.
Department of Traffic should organise special camps for Schools, Colleges, University students as well as for Public Transport drivers, especially for Sumo services. Experts on the subject can be engaged to get fruitful results. Fine should be the last option not the first, because we can generate revenue by imposing fine but we can never achieve desired results in regulating Traffic.
Author is a Senior Journalist and a Human Rights Activist
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.