Tragic Road accident

Three main highways of the State, viz. Jammu -Srinagar, Jammu – Kishtwar and Jammu-Poonch are more accident prone because these are all mountainous roads cut into rocks along the course of the rivers or nullahs that meander through the gorges. In developed countries mountainous roads are built under special engineering rules and patterns keeping in mind all possible safety measures kept in place. Driving licenses are given only to those who have gone through rigorous training in hill driving. These are special licenses. The vehicles that are plying on those roads, especially the passenger buses, are checked and re-checked not only at the starting point but at several places along the route of journey to ensure that no snag has crept making the bus not fit for onward journey.
In a tragic road accident, a bus of State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) carrying Swami Amarnath holy cave yatris from Jammu to Pahalgam fell into 200 feet deep gorge at Nachalana in district Ramban just 13 kilometres short of Banihal town. As a result of the accident 17 passengers were killed while 28 were injured some of them critically. The bus had left the yatri camp in Bhagwati Nagar Jammu in wee hours but developed some mechanical snag owing to which the driver is reported to have lost control over the bus which lurched and fell down the gorge striking against a huge rock with a big bang.
Police have registered a case and orders have been issued that the enquiry report is to be submitted within two days.
SRTC authorities claim that the technical authorities had given a fitness certificate to the ill-fated bus only two days earlier and then only was it allowed to join the convoy carrying the pilgrims. It is said that one tyre of the bus burst suddenly and the driver lost the control as the bus fell into the gorge. Or maybe there was some other technical snag which only the enquiry will show
This accident should not have happened. If we take into account the claim of the State Government that all elaborate arrangements have been made for the safe journey of the pilgrims to the mountain shrine, then the occurrence of the tragic accident is a proof that the claim of the Government authorities is untenable. Who does not know that since long there have been so many complaints against SRTC calling it an inefficient service? Even the staff of the Corporation has often proceeded on strike the work programmes to force the Government bring about drastic changes in the functioning of the Corporation. The very fact that all SRTC buses have been withdrawn following the accident at Nachalana shows that the authorities have been sceptical about proper functioning of the buses of the Corporation. We shall have to wait for the report of the enquiry set up by the Government authorities but on the surface of it how come this bus got clearance for carrying the passengers. How then can we trust the statement of the Managing Director that the bus was declared fit for service only two days prior to the occurrence of the accident?
As far as the second part of the story is concerned meaning the rescue operations, we must appreciate all concerned with rescue operations, the local police from Ramban and Banihal, the security forces on duty enroute, Air Force, the civil administration of Banihal and Ramban that they wasted no time in extending whatever support they could in rescuing the victims or pulling the dead bodies out of the gorge and also arranging to shift as well as air lift the injured persons to hospitals for treatment. In particular, we have to appreciate the immediate decision taken by the Governor to be personally in Banihal to oversee rescue operations and issue on spot orders for requisitioning helicopter services for airlifting seriously injured persons to the hospitals.
In an overview of this or other road accidents of similar nature we will again suggest that the administration, operation and control of three main highways of the State mentioned above should be given into a separate authority which has to be created under administrative structure. All powers pertaining to road maintenance, traffic vision, traffic regularizing etc. should be concentrated in this authority. Finally, Daily Excelsior conveys condolence to the believed families and prays for peace to the departed souls.


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