Spine chilling Kishtwar road accident

Quite unfortunate and stunning as it looks that only on June 30, we dissected the causes and the ways of averting road accidents in these very columns in respect of a deadliest road accident on Mughal Road claiming 11 precious lives including nine young girls. It is quite pitiful but down on luck that we should be referring to the loss of 35 precious lives , in yet another heart breaking and harrowing road accident in Kishtwar on July 1 . The gruesome accident also caused 16 passengers to get seriously injured who presently are undergoing treatment at hospitals. The Prime Minister has termed the accident as ‘heart wrenching’ and expressed deep condolences for the bereaved families. Governor has ordered a probe and promised an action plan to curb accidents about which the decision could be taken in the next meeting of the State Administrative Council (SAC).
This , we are afraid, is all we are used to watch and witness as reaction to the death of dance on the roads which so far, in this year alone have claimed 69 precious lives in ten road accidents. This cannot be allowed to be treated quite casually and lethargically reminiscent of how things usually move in this State. Could this accident not have been averted and these lives saved apparently was not difficult had the State administration taken any lessons from such recurring accidents , the recent one that of at Mughal Road. We mince no words in saying that the Departments of Transport, Traffic Police and concerned agencies are continuously failing in their duties and expected role on roads. “Chalta Hai” syndrome is rife and no fear of the consequences of negligence and non- exerting of authority have made the entire structure and the system paralytic.
Earning quick bucks due to employing whatever means , in most of the cases , has taken the best of our discretion, empathy and compassion. It is not that none from the system was not knowing that private vehicle owners on Kishtwar, Ramban, Doda routes were not only stuffing their vehicles with passengers much beyond the capacity but were indulging in rash driving and running with unfit, un-tuned and worn out engines and with no safety norms. Passengers get squeezed in space less inners of these vehicles , at times even occupying roof tops because there are no SRTC vehicles plying on these routes . They are rotting in yards but are not run on these routes even if they were commercially unprofitable which we cannot believe to be a possibility.
The vicious cycle of corruption, we are admittedly saying, was starting from the unscrupulous and greedy driver to the ‘on silent mode’ traffic personnel to the ‘compromising’ officials in Traffic Department to the reluctant and conniving district administration which no one in the system of governance is willing to break without fear or favour. The result is before us – that of snuffing out of the passengers in road accidents frequently taking place especially in Kishtwar, Doda, Ramban routes and even on other ones. Can anyone just believe that in a vehicle designed for and having optimum seating capacity for 28 can be stuffed with nearly double as much , as the ill fated vehicle was carrying 51 passengers. It is apparent that the driver’s seat too must have been covered from sides to opaque his viewing the road . How could the vehicle be controlled under such circumstances and it rolled down into a 1200 feet deep gorge near Sirgawari village in Kishtwar. Let no amount of ritualistic and formality oriented statements and messages , followed by granting of ex-gratia and as usual and ordering of inquiries -be thought to be sufficient enough to deal with the problem which is now turning out to be gigantic in form and almost frequent by happening.
We expect a comprehensive road safety policy involving all the concerned departments , taking on board drivers’ and owners’ support including informing them about facing penal action if violations were committed, passengers’ views and suggestions including penal action for boarding a vehicle keeping standing or clung to the rear of the vehicle, traffic and police personnel , media and social organisations . Let us “see” traffic personnel on roads even after dusk and during nights as roads are not resting during nights but are most vulnerable to accidents, smuggling, crimes and flagrant violation of traffic rules. Parapets needed to be built all along the critically sensitive roads especially which pass through deep gorges to prevent or minimise the chances of vehicles rolling down . Agreed, it entailed huge expenditure but it is rather an urgent safety requirement. Let us , in the mean time, see and appraise the finding of the probe and if heads could roll of those found negligent and careless and for leaving the routes affected as in the instant case, to the chances of fate