Unsafe NH

National Highway from Kathua to Jammu is the most crucial part of the road link between the State and the rest of the country. It is perhaps the busiest part of the entire National Highway in the State. Its 4-lanning has been completed and people expected that the Highway would become very safe for travel. But that is not going to be the reality. On the ground, the situation of the National Highway from Lakhanpur, the entry point to the State, down to Jammu is not at all conducive to hassle free traffic. Accidents along the Lakhanpur-Jammu segment on the National Highway are on the increase and very precious lives are lost mostly owing to the selfishness and lack of sense of responsibility among the people. The 4-lanning of this Highway has brought misery in trail for many unfortunate families whose members have lost their lives for no fault of theirs. It is simple irony of fate that a 4-lanned highway which should have become a guarantee against road accidents is proving the reverse of it.
The situation is that the service lanes opened with the 4-lanning are encroached upon thereby killing the very purpose of four lanning of the highway. Secondly, absence of proper bus stands at main towns and stations on the route forces drivers of trucks and buses to halt in the main channel unnecessarily and thus create traffic jam on the Highway. Most of the accidents in which fatalities are recorded take place owing to the sudden stoppage of the trucks and buses on the main channel which they are not authorized to do.  Traffic police authorities, Municipal Committees of the stations along the Highway and the district administrative staff all are unconcerned about the mishaps that take place on National Highway as if it does not pertain to them at all. Rehriwallas and hand wagon people have encroached on the service lanes occupied them illegally and use their hand wagons to sell goods and make money without realizing that they are endangering the lives of civilians. It is the duty of the traffic police, district police, MCs and district administrative staff to look to the unauthorized encroachments and vacate these under strict orders of the Government. But the actual situation is the reverse of it. It seems a nexus has been formed among the encroaching persons and the traffic police authorities and there is understanding between them. If it were not so, there would be no reason for the traffic police not to vacate encroachments and make traffic along the National Highway safe for all. It will be reminded that during the days when Jagmohan was the Governor, the matter of people encroaching upon the national highway was brought to his notice and he took strict action against the defaulters. All encroachments were cleared and bulldozed. If it was possible for the administration to enforce the rule of law at that time, what stops it from adopting same policy in the case of present encroachments?  Obviously, it is not only lack of will to do but soft paddling with the illegal acts of performers is very much there.
Apart from Traffic Department, District Commissioners are also enjoined upon by the law of the land to see to it that law and order is not disrupted within their respective jurisdiction. At least sites at Chadwal, Dayala Chak, Barnoti, Rajbagh, Kalibari, Hatli Morh have been identified as the choking points where the buses and trucks often halt suddenly and cause great inconvenience to the commuters and also endanger lives of innocent people. We find no reason why the district authorities should not immediately intervene and restore the situation along the National Highway to its original status. Billions of rupees have been spent on four-lanning of the National Highway. This money has come from the public exchequer. If the purpose is not solved the question is what is the fun of spending so much of money for something which is elusive? Traffic Police, DC office, National Highway Authority and many others are responsible and answerable and they must be called in to explain the situation. Creating conditions in which innocent civilians lose their lives is denial of the right to life and is cognizable under law because it is violation of human rights and precisely the right to life. We expect all these agencies to move immediately and undertake the project of vacating encroachments of service lanes of the National Highway from Lakhanpur to Udhampur. At the same time the condition of the road especially at important stations like Lakhanpur, Kathua, Samba and other towns has to be improved and facilities made available for proper bus stands to avoid road blocks and jamming of traffic. The district authorities also need to emphasize upon the Government to create flyovers and pedestrian bridges at various places to ensure safety of pedestrians.