Governor’s priority remains non-issue for many deptts

*Policy, Special Fund nowhere in sight despite tall claims
Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Jan 16: Shocking it may sound but it is a reality that road safety is a priority subject for the Governor but not for those at the helm of affairs in many Government departments. This can be gauged from the fate of several directions which were passed by the Governor in the month of February last year.
During the Governor’s Rule in Jammu and Kashmir prior to formulation of PDP-BJP Coalition Government, N N Vohra, while chairing J&K Road Safety Council meeting at Civil Secretariat on February 14, 2015 had passed numerous directions to different departments for initiating measures with the objective of checking alarming rise in the road accidents.
Initially, almost all the departments initiated some steps to translate directions into reality but with the passage of time no seriousness was shown towards the subject of road safety. One such step was setting up of Lead Agency to act as the Secretariat of the State Road Safety Council with the sole objective of initiating measures to promote road safety.
The Secretariat of the Road Safety Council was constituted vide Government Order No.854-GAD dated June 29, 2015. In the order it was specifically mentioned by Gazzanfer Hussain, Commissioner/ Secretary to the Government, General Administration Department that this Secretariat would coordinate all activities relating to the road safety, which would include functions of the Police, Public Works (R&B), Education and Health Departments besides Local Bodies, Non-Governmental Organizations and other departments concerned with the road safety.
It was mentioned in the order that Secretariat shall comprise of one Additional Secretary (an officer holding the Selection Grade of KAS to be deputed by the GAD), two Additional Secretaries-Technical (one an SSP level officer to be deputed by the Home Department and another a Superintending Engineer level officer to be deputed by the R&B Department) besides one Under Secretary, Statistical Officer, Head Assistant, Personal Assistant and Senior Assistant.
Though no financial implication was involved in deputing officers to the Secretariat of the Road Safety Council, one Additional Secretary (Selection Grade KAS officer) and one Additional Secretary (SSP level officer) have not been deputed in the Secretariat of the Council till date, official sources told EXCELSIOR.
“The Commissioner/ Secretary, Transport Department has written to the General Administration and Home Departments a number of times for deputing of KAS officer and SSP level officer but these two departments have not acted upon the communiqués till date”, sources further said, adding “in the absence of two key officers what sort of coordination this Secretariat is rendering remains a million dollar question”.
Moreover, no independent office has been established for the Secretariat and the same is functioning from one or two rooms accommodation given in the Civil Secretariat, they informed, adding “what to talk of making Secretariat fully equipped with manpower and other paraphernalia, the Government has also adopted non-serious approach towards other vital aspects like formulation of Road Safety Policy and Road Safety Fund”.
As far as Road Safety Policy is concerned, sources said, “the draft of the same was prepared and even submitted to the Law Department but there is no further progress on the same and Policy continued to remain a distant dream”, adding “similarly, Road Safety Fund has not been created till date and the file is shuttling between Law, Finance and Transport Departments during the past some months”.
About another important aspect of identifying black spots on the highways and other roads for prompt improvement, sources said, “though an exercise in this regard has been conducted by constituting a Task Force but work on ground has yet not been initiated because of varied reasons”, adding “black spots have been identified only on the National Highways but the same exercise with respect to other roads has yet not picked momentum”.
When contacted, Commissioner/Secretary Transport Department, Kifayat Hussain Rizvi confirmed that two Additional Secretaries have not been deputed in the Secretariat of the Road Safety Council till date. He, however, said that one Additional Secretary (Technical) is performing his duties effectively.
About the Road Safety Policy and Road Safety Fund, Mr Rizvi said, “we have taken up both these issues with the Law and Finance Departments and very shortly something positive will emerge”, adding “as far as black spots identification process is concerned, the exercise could not pick up momentum in respect of State Roads because in J&K we don’t have notified State Highways. However, this aspect is being looked into by a Task Force headed by Commissioner/ Secretary Roads and Buildings”.


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