Govt fails to apprise HC about deployment of life saving ambulances in hilly districts

DB directs for rigorous drive to prosecute Traffic Rules violators
Specifications not being followed in roads construction: Counsel

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Nov 20: Showing its non-serious approach towards loss of lives in frequent road accidents particularly in hilly and tough terrain areas of Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban, the State Government has failed to apprise State High Court about the steps taken for deployment of life saving ambulances in these districts despite being granted sufficient time in this regard.
In a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by District Bar Association Doda laying stress on initiation of effective steps to check road accidents across the State in general and districts of Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban in particular, the Division Bench of the State High Court comprising Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Justice Sanjay Kumar Gupta had on September 5, 2018 issued direction to the Chief Secretary for filing affidavit mentioning the number of life saving ambulances along with necessary staff deployed in the three hilly districts of Jammu region within a period of two weeks.
This direction was issued by the High Court after the counsel for the PIL Advocate Syed Asim Hashmi submitted that the ambulances presently deployed are not life saving ones and lack vital equipment as well as paramedical staff. “These ambulances can only transport patients for treatment and in case life saving ambulances equipped with the requisite equipment and staff are deployed a number of lives can be saved”, he had further submitted.
However, when the PIL came up for hearing before the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rajesh Bindal yesterday, counsel appearing for the State sought time for filing affidavit of the Chief Secretary in terms of order dated September 5, 2018. The failure of the Government in ensuring compliance of directive issued over two months back clearly established non-serious approach towards frequent loss of lives in the road accidents in the hilly districts.
In the meanwhile, counsel for the PIL, in his response to the affidavit filed by Inspector General of Traffic Police, submitted, “major cause of the accidents especially in Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban districts is badly maintained roads”, adding “none of the link roads under PMGSY and R&B sectors has been constructed as per the laid down specifications”.
He further submitted, “as per the criteria achievement of six meter width in all single lane link roads is the rule for which the contracts are allotted but there is hardly any internal link road where at the finalization of contract agreement this aspect is addressed by R&B and PMGSY authorities”.
He substantiated this by mentioning the names of Doda-Bharath road beyond six kilometres, Jodhpur-Kalihand road and several other link roads in Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban districts, which are in bad condition.
“The provisions of Motor Vehicle Act prescribe immediate compensation but the fact is that some poor widows and orphans remain without compensation as many vehicles are often without insurance cover and it is not easy for claimants to obtain compensation”, the counsel for the PIL further submitted while praying for issuance of directions for strict implementation of Motor Vehicle Rules.
After hearing counsel for the PIL and Government Advocate Sunil Malhotra, the Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Gita Mittal directed the Traffic Police to disclose the number of prosecutions undertaken for traffic violations as well as the fine which has been recovered because of the violations.
“The Traffic Police shall also prepare a comprehensive plan and undertake a drive for effecting prosecution of Traffic Rules violators in the State and also with regard to publicizing the legal provisions regarding traffic violations in the State in order to increase public awareness and minimize violations”, the DB said, adding “such drive for prosecution as well as publicity has to be continuous and vigorous”.
The DB also sought to know the manner in which the licenses are issued to prospective drivers and examine the possibility of video-graphing the test which an applicant for traffic license has to undertake before a license is issued.
“The Traffic Police shall also examine the possibility to create traffic parks to create awareness among the public, students and children”, the DB further directed.