‘Killer roads’ is how you describe roads in erstwhile district Doda, the county’s second most backward district. Another accident has consumed 6 more innocent lies besides leaving 56 others with wounds which will take several years to heal. Some have lost bread earners while many others have become permanently handicapped. Life after this accident is not going to be same for several families in erstwhile District Doda.
The killer roads have left permanent scars on their body and mind. Nothing much has changed on the government side. Chief Minister Mehbooba and her Deputy Dr. Nirmal Singh have both grieved loss of lives. Condemnation has poured-in from the side of ex-Chief Ministers Dr. Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah. Leaders of erstwhile District Doda, from ex-MLAs to MLCs, all have condoled death of 6 innocents in this tragic incident.
But none has sought probe or inquiry into this tragic incident. They have carried out routine exercise of issuing handouts condoling death of innocent civilians. The recurrent road accidents in Jammu and Kashmir have become a major concern. Not a single day passes when we don’t lose at least one precious life to such accidents. The rate of accidental deaths per 1,000 vehicles in J&K was reported 1.1 per cent which was 0.2 per cent higher than All India average.
Even as some general causes like driver-error, reckless driving, overloading, poor condition of vehicles are prevalent almost across the country, the accidents in this second backward district of the country can primarily be attributable to factors like dilapidated and narrow roads.
If at all pressed hard, state government is likely to blame traffic police cops and some officials of the transport department. But none bothers to take to task the contractors and the PWD officials, who have constructed these killer roads. The masterminds of these dangerous roads should be penalised and thrown behind the bars for playing with the lives of the people. The government should make a start by lodging FIRs against the contractors as well as PWD officers.
It should stop putting the blame on those factors which come into play only when the road is fit for being thrown open for traffic. And in erstwhile District Doda, most of the roads are in pathetic condition. Despite having been responsible for thousands of lives lost on these roads during the last two decades, not even one officer or contractor has been booked under section 302. They have been left untouched and whenever the issue of responsibility comes, traffic police officers and those of the transport department are taken to task.
Ask for the reasons and you would come to know that it is primarily because of the non-seriousness of the state government towards addressing this grave concern of the people of erstwhile District Doda which is now divided into three districts namely Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban. Had the government been serious, it would have by now set-in motion a mechanism of fixing responsibility of people involved in road construction and hanging those who shamelessly protest seeking release of payments against various road constriction works.
The new government under Mehbooba Mufti should stop this routine Dramabaazi and instead, go to the root of the problem and redress it. Otherwise, day is not far when entire erstwhile District Doda district would have to be declared ‘out of bounds’ for traffic. The sooner the government gets to the root of the problem, the better it would be.