House Panel report on checking tragedies on roads gathering dust

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Jan 18: Though everybody in the corridors of power start pondering over remedial measures after every tragic road accident like the recent one at Bhala in Doda district, no step has so far been taken by the State Government to implement the slew of measures recommended by a House Committee of the Legislative Assembly to check such accidents. As the recommendations are gathering dust in the official files during the past over nine months, the exercise carried out by the Legislators in framing a comprehensive report has turned out to be a step in futility and mere wastage of time.
The multi-member House Committee headed by CPM MLA Mohd Yousaf Tarigami came into being on May 10, 2011 after legislators cutting across party lines expressed serious concern over the frequent road accidents particularly in erstwhile Doda district (presently comprising three districts of Ramban, Doda and Kishtwar).
After year long series of deliberations with all the stakeholders and inspection of road network in all the three districts, the House Committee tabled report in the Legislative Assembly on April 2, 2012 recommending series of measures required to be taken on war footing basis in order to check tragic road accidents in mountainous erstwhile Doda district.
However, much to the surprise of members of the House Committee as well as administration in the districts of Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban not even one recommendation has so far been implemented, official sources told EXCELSIOR, adding “what to talk of taking the steps recommended by the House Committee, some departments to whom the measures pertain to are even unaware of the suggestions made by the panel”.
“Nine months after the submission of report by the House Committee, no step has been initiated towards constitution of Traffic Regulatory Authority having the responsibility and accountability for the regulation and management of vehicular traffic in the State”, sources said. The constitution of such an Authority was recommended on the ground that lack of similarity in the priorities of departments/agencies involved in regulation of traffic nullify the efforts of one or the other department intentionally or un-intentionally.
“In the absence of Traffic Regulatory Authority rolling of responsibilities from one department to another after every tragic accident is still continuing despite the fact that House Committee had held this responsible for failure of the Government to check accidents”, sources said, adding “had the Government not been in favour of setting Traffic Regulatory Authority it should have made it clear on the floor of the House when the report was submitted”.
Another important recommendation of the House Committee was increasing number of SRTC vehicles in Ramban, Doda and Kishtwar districts in order to avoid overloading, which is one of the major factors responsible for tragedies on the hilly roads.
“Some additional vehicles must have been pressed into service but the situation in all the three districts continues to the miserable”, sources said, adding “in the absence of SRTC workshops in these districts, which was also the recommendation of the House Committee, the fleet position of the SRTC vehicles remains low as in case of every mechanical problem the vehicles are being rushed to Jammu for repair and due to this it takes weeks together to the buses to return to these districts and ultimately leads to overloading in the private vehicles”.
Notwithstanding the pressing need of life saving ambulances and recovery cranes for prompt rescue operations following the tragic road accidents, the Government has also not made any progress towards implementing the recommendation of House Committee for supply of 12 basic life saving ambulances and 12 ten-ton and 13 small recovery cranes, sources said.
“The fate of another recommendation vis-à-vis setting up of Traffic Police Posts equipped with CCTV cameras and sophisticated communication system at suitable distances to curb all sorts of traffic violations is also hanging in balance”, sources said, adding “what to talk of establishing Traffic Police Posts even strength of cops in blue has not been increased and the number is same as was before the constitution of House Committee and submission of report”.
“It is highly disappointing that while the road network is increasing in hilly districts particularly due to Prime Minister Gramin Sadak Yojana, no serious thought has so far been paid towards increasing the strength of Traffic Police personnel”, sources regretted, adding “even the manpower of Motor Vehicle Department in these districts is insufficient to carry out even the office works”.
Sources further regretted, “it is a sordid state of affairs that after every tragic accident those at the helm of affairs start pondering over the steps required to be taken to check mishaps but they forget the exercise(s) carried out in the past in the same direction and the fate of recommendations of House Committee is a testimony of the same”.

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