Vital decisions of 1st meeting gathering dust in official files during past 2 years

*Distt Committees wake up only after Guv seeks data

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, Feb 12: J&K Road Safety Council, which was constituted to act as a guiding force for checking increasing road accidents, has virtually been rendered a ‘useless’ body because of administrative inertia. This can be gauged from the fact that the Council has met only twice ever since its establishment way back in September 2012 and the decisions taken in its maiden meeting have still been gathering dust in the official files with no follow up action due to ‘blind eye’ maintained by various departments.
This Council was constituted in the year 2012 and its first meeting was convened by the then Chief Secretary, Madhav Lal on September 15, 2012 wherein several important decisions were taken in order to check road accidents and ensure road safety.
The major decisions included setting up of Road Accidents Data Management System, appointment of Road Safety Commissioner, conduct of Road Safety Audits of National Highways and other major roads, setting up of Modern Training Institutes and Vehicle Fitness Centers, construction of crash barriers and parapets and deployment of ambulances fitted with advanced life support system at regular intervals on all highways across the State.
However, there was no follow up action on almost all these decisions and all have been gathering dust in the official files since then as those who had the responsibility of translating these decisions into reality never bothered to perform their duty sincerely.
“What to talk of implementing these decisions, even no focus was laid on convening another meeting of the Council thereby rendering it as a useless body”, sources regretted, adding “the outcome of the administrative inertia is that improvement in road safety remains non-issue despite continuous increase in the number of road accidents”.
It was only on the directions of the Governor that Chief Secretary, who is the Chairman of the State Road Safety Council, convened its 2nd meeting three days back that too after a gap of more than two years. Shockingly, the second meeting took those decisions, which were already taken in the first meeting way back in September 2012 instead of finding the reasons for non-implementation of what were decided earlier, sources regretted.
“In this way, the second meeting was convened with half-hearted approach and just to adhere to the directions of the Governor about holding meeting”, they said while disclosing that neither Road Safety Commissioner has been appointed as per the decision of first meeting nor Modern Training Institutes and Vehicle Fitness Centers have been established till date.
Similarly, Safety Audit of National Highways and other major roads, construction of crash barriers and parapets and deployment of ambulances fitted with advanced life support system at regular intervals on all highways across the State remain a distant dream despite lapse of more than two years, sources informed.
They disclosed that District Road Safety Committees, which are required to meet quarterly, have failed to yield any positive results till date. “The meetings of majority of these committees were convened only when Raj Bhawan recently conveyed to the administration that Governor would review the functioning of such committees and seek data about the decisions taken and implemented by such committees at the district level”, sources informed.
“All this clearly indicates that there is no seriousness at any level in the State administration to check road accidents despite Governor repeatedly expressing serious concern over repeated fatal accidents during the past many years”, sources said.
“What to talk of Road Safety Council decisions nobody knows the fate of recommendations made by a House Committee, which was constituted by the State Legislature to assess the causes behind frequent road accidents in the State in general and in hilly areas particularly”, they further said while stressing that Governor, who has decided to review road safety on February 14 should make the officers accountable for non-implementation of decisions taken in the first meeting of Road Safety Council and the recommendations of the House Committee.
Despite repeated calls to seek his comments on the prevailing situation, Commissioner Secretary Transport Department Bipul Pathak did not respond.

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