SRTC buses in Hilly Regions

This has reference to the news item’Finally,decks cleared for deployment of 34 fresh SRTC buses in erstwhile Doda’ (DE, July11, 2019).It is heartening to read that the State Government has cleared decks for the deployment of 34 more fresh State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) buses in erstwhile Doda district to overcome the problem of overloading in the private passanger vehicles.The recent tragic road accident near Kishtwar on July1, 2019, which claimed about 35 lives sent shockwaves across our state.The accident has reportedly been caused due to overloading as fifty three passangers were travelling against the seating capacity of about 27 passangers.There is no doubt that in rural and hilly areas, overloading of buses/minibuses is a regular phenomenon, especially in the mornings and evenings when there is heavy rush of students, employees and labourers.In the abscence of adequate number of buses, the passangers have no option but to board the overloaded buses to reach their destination.
It is here that the need to press into service of the SRTC buses is greatly felt.The fact that Government has also identified the routes for the operation of new buses shows that the government is committed to check overloading and provide new buses to the people living in these areas some of which are accident prone, to overcome the shortage of passanger vehicles.As the rate of accidents of SRTC buses is lowest in the country, pressing into service these buses, especially in the hilly areas will help in reducing such accidents.At the same time, the roads in accident prone areas ought to be upgraded and macamadized.The dirving licences to drive the heavy motor vehicles in hilly areas need to be issued after strict trial and tests.Moreover,there is also need to conduct periodic refresher/orientation courses for the drivers and conductors to senitize them about the need to observe traffic rules while driving.The Traffic Police and officers and officials of the Motor Vehicle Department ought to conduct frequent crackdowns to ensure that the drivers donot violate traffic rules and regulations and those who are found violating traffic rules such as driving without proper documents, driving under the influence of liquor/drugs, driving without wearing belts/helmets etc should be given exemplary punishment to avoid recurrence of such acts.
Ashok Sharma,