*Violating commitments made under preamble
JAMMU, Feb 9: Though thousands of innocent lives are lost in tragic road accidents in the length and breadth of Jammu and Kashmir every year yet the Government has not fixed any time-frame for fulfilling its commitment to provide safe roads, smart transport system and ensure strict enforcement of rules thereby sending a message that human life has no value in its eyes.
The main objective of the Transport Department is to formulate and implement policies so as to make transport system in the State safe and secure especially in the light of the fact that major part of Jammu and Kashmir is hilly.
With this vision, the Government vide Order No.64-TR of 2016 dated September 8, 2016 formulated Road Safety Policy albeit after a prolonged delay and much criticism from different quarters.
The preamble of the Policy reads: “The increase in tragic road accidents is of great concern and has to be reduced through comprehensive measures”. Similarly, in the Vision and Objectives of the Policy the Government states: “In the light of the preamble, the Government is committed to take appropriate steps to save the precious lives which are lost in the road accidents and to take comprehensive measures to stop and reverse increasing trend of road accidents, number of deaths and injuries”.
However, the PDP-BJP Government has not shown any seriousness till date towards fulfilling its commitment to provide safe roads, smart transport system and ensure strict enforcement of rules, which is evident from the fact that no time-frame has been fixed to implement key provisions of Road Safety Policy despite having numerous discussions on the same in the Civil Secretariat.
About the safe roads and mobility, the Policy states that Government will adopt innovative features and modernize the public transport system by increasing the operations of J&K State Road Transport Corporation and encouraging smart buses to reduce private transport as far as possible.
However, Government has nothing tangible to show in this regard which is evident from the fact that only a committee consisting of RTO Jammu, RTO Kathua and NIC Scientist has been constituted for submitting a comprehensive report on introduction of smart buses in pursuance to the decision taken in a meeting convened on December 1, 2016, sources informed.
Similarly, no major step has so far been initiated towards establishment of safe transport infrastructure, sources said while disclosing that modalities are still being worked out for operation of smart transportation modes with GPS/GIS vehicle tracking sytem and CCTVs by private/public transporters that too without fixing any time-frame for completion of this exercise.
As the behavior of the drivers is the major cause of road accidents it was decided that high-tech driving institutes will be opened at regional level besides the State will strengthen Driving Licenses System. However, even the Transport Department doesn’t know when these institutes will come up, sources said, adding “as far as driving institute in Jammu is concerned the approval of Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is awaited while as land is yet to be identified for such institute in Kashmir”.
Similarly, a committee constituted to study the requirements of drivers and prepare refresher course for the commercial drivers for upgrading their basic knowledge and competence to drive has yet not completed the assigned task, sources informed.
“Moreover, there is no time-frame for implementation of Road Accident Data Management System (RADMS) in the State for which even Transport Commissioner and IG Traffic Police were deputed to Tamil Nadu to study their system”, sources said, adding “now it is stated that financial implication of Rs 260 lakh is involved in this exercise and Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highway has been approached for guidance”.
According to the sources, the Transport Department doesn’t have anything concrete to show as far as improving the capacity of the Motor Vehicles Department and Traffic Police Department is concerned. “Revised re-organization proposal was submitted to the Administrative Department in the month of July 2016 but why the proposal is struck up even after addressing the observations raised by the Finance Department remains a million dollar question”, they added.
Pointing towards the provision relating to social security for the road accident victims through third party insurance, sources said, “Transport Department has not initiated any step to put a mechanism in place till date”.
“The dilly-dallying approach on implementation of key provisions of Road Safety Policy is being allowed on the pretext that the objective of the Policy is to reduce the fatalities and injuries by 2020 considering 2016 as a base year”, sources said, adding “this clearly establishes that Government will remain mute spectator to frequent tragic road accidents and subsequent loss of innocent lives for next three years”.