Govt remains unconcerned over recurring fatal accidents

No action on several provisions of policy notified in 2016

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Aug 21: State Government has remained unconcerned over tragic road accidents particularly in the hilly districts as neither State Road Safety Council nor the district level committees are meeting regularly to deliberate on the causes of fatal accidents and accordingly initiate remedial measures. Moreover, several key provisions of the policy notified in 2016 have remained unimplemented till date.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that as per the directions issued by the Governor N N Vohra from time to time the Road Safety Council was supposed to meet at regular intervals preferably once in every quarter to hold deliberations on the causes leading to the tragedies on the roads particularly in hilly parts of the State and come up with remedial measures at the State level.
Similarly, the District Road Safety Committees headed by Deputy Commissioners are required to meet on monthly basis to take steps for ensuring safety of the people travelling in the passenger vehicles in their respective districts.
“However, there is non-seriousness at both these levels as State Road Safety Council has not met even once since August last year while as District Road Safety Committees meet only when tragic road accident takes place in any part of the State”, they said, adding “since two major accidents have taken place in Kishtwar district during past two days all the District Road Safety Committees will start meeting within next few days just as an eyewash”.
They further said, “even Divisional Commissioners are also responsible for the prevailing situation as they were instructed a number of times by the Governor to ensure that District Road Safety Committees meet as per the fixed time-frame, submit minutes of the meetings and action taken as well”.
Earlier, the State Road Safety Council was not having sufficient powers because it was established by way of an executive order but in the month of February this year the State Legislature enacted J&K Road Safety Council Act as desired by the Sub-Committee of the Supreme Court looking after the road safety aspect thereby giving more powers to the Council.
What was the fun of giving more powers to the Council when its meetings were not to be convened periodically?, sources asked. “The non-seriousness of the concerned authorities can further be gauged from the fact that even Rules under the Act have not been framed till date”, they added.
As per the provisions of the Act, Road Safety Fund was required to be created to meet expenditure for implementation of road safety related schemes,  programmes,  projects, purchase and installation of equipments and devises connected with road safety, conduct of studies, projects and research on matters relating to road safety and trauma-care programmes etc.
However, this Fund has not been created till date by the Government for unknown reasons, sources said, adding “due to inordinate delay in this regard none of the activity mentioned in the Act could be carried out on a large scale”.
According to the sources, even several provisions of the J&K Road Safety Policy, which was notified in 2016 have not been implemented till date.
These include establishment of centre of excellence in the State to create capacity in road safety research as well as human resource for road safety engineering within the R&B Department; setting up of system for identifying new areas of research with a special attention to safety of the vulnerable road users and establishing road safety clubs in schools, colleges and universities.
The other provisions of the policy which have remained unimplemented till date are inclusion of road safety awareness as part of educational curriculum for students of various age groups, constituting flying squads to check menace of overloading particularly in hilly areas and spending road facility budget on driver education and training by opening training centres at different places as the behaviour of the driver is the major cause of road accidents.
When contacted, an officer of the Transport Department said, “it is a fact that State Road Safety Council has not met since August last year but internal meetings were convened in the department and deliberations held on the measures required to be taken to check road accidents”.
Stating that agenda for Council meeting was being finalized, he said, “hopefully the Council will meet shortly”, adding “efforts are on to create Road Safety Fund and prepare Rules of J&K Road Safety Council Act”.