SRINAGAR Citing lack of manpower and infrastructure, traffic authorities say they are being unfairly blamed for the growing number of deadly road accidents in Jammu and Kashmir.
With 10 major road accidents causing 69 deaths and injuries to over 150 people this year, the traffic department is facing flak from the public for its purported inability to keep a check on overloading and rash driving by public transporters on different routes.
“They have failed to check the overloading of buses and other vehicles which have off and on led to fatal accidents in the district”, said Nazir Ahmad, a school a teacher from Budgam.
While speaking to Kashmir Observer, several commuters in other districts expressed similar concerns.
Drivers move at a snails pace until buses are crammed to the full with the passengers, said Nazima Rashid of Bandipora.
Besides causing inconvenience to passengers, overloading in public transport often leads to fatal mishaps as well.
While 35 persons were killed and 17 others injured in an accident in Kishtwar on July 1, 11 students were killed and seven others were injured when a bus fell into a deep gorge on Mughal Road in Shopian district on June 27.
Similarly, 18 persons were injured in a mishap in Kishtwar district on June 22. Nine persons were killed in Leh on June 8 when their vehicle rolled down the Chang La pass.
On May 30, three persons were killed and 10 others were injured when a vehicle rolled down into a gorge in Doda, while six others were injured in a similar accident in Rajouri on April 28.
Three persons were killed and five others were injured in Udhampur on June 5, followed by injuries to 14 persons in another mishap in Doda district on June 14.
On July 3 at least eighteen students and a teacher were injured after a school excursion bus met with an accident in Repora-Lar area of Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district. On Thursday, a driver was critically injured as a bus carrying school students to an excursion met with an accident in Watlab area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.
SP Traffic Rural, Muzaffar Shah, feels the department alone cannot be held responsible for the growing number of road accidents.
There needs to be a proper mechanism to check the menace but our department lacks the required manpower, Shah says.
He also attributes overloading, and the resultant accidents, to lack of public transport, especially in rural areas.
Every month we file around 20,000 challans but that is not going to stop accidents. The issue is we are only going for challan, we are not giving any alternatives to people, he said, adding that everyone including RTOs need to chip in to solve the issue.
In terms of enforcement, we are trying our best. We file around 800 challans every day in the valley and for rash driving different squads are on job to stop the menace, he adds.