Srinagar- Hilly terrain, rash driving, overloading of passengers and dilapidated condition of roads are said to be the main reasons for the spike in deadly accidents in the Pir Panjal range and Chenab valley of the Jammu region.
As road accidents continue to shatter families, a timeline of accidents reveals shocking details of casualties and injuries caused by the killer roads in the twin districts of Doda and Kishtwar.
As per the data compiled, from 2020 to 2023 a total of 881 road accidents took place in Doda and Kishtwar districts. In Kishtwar, around 90 accidents took place, leading to the loss of 88 lives and 235 individuals sustaining injuries. The Doda witnessed 791 accidents, resulting in 170 deaths and 1,026 injuries which led to a total of 258 deaths in twin districts Chenab region.
The data further reveals that in 2016, 34 persons were killed and 347 injured in Doda and 21 were killed and 85 injured in Kishtwar. In 2017, 49 persons were killed and 274 injured in Doda, whereas 15 persons were killed and 97 injured in Kishtwar. As many as 39 persons were killed and 130 injured in Kishtwar, whereas 28 persons were killed and 330 injured in Doda in 2018. In 2019 around 56 persons lost their lives in mountainous Kishtwar, whereas in Doda 46 persons were killed and over 300 persons injured in road accidents. From 2016-2019 a total of 283 people were killed in both the districts.
Locals said that the dilapidated condition of the Batote-Doda-Kishtwar stretch of National Highway 244 and inner roads are taking a heavy toll on people’s lives with accidents a ground reality.
Syed Bilal, a journalist from Doda, said that there are multiple reasons for accidents saying roads in the twin districts are death traps.
“The condition of Batote-Doda-Kishtwar is dangerous for anyone to travel.
Although the situation of highways has changed from what it used to be in the nineties, it is still dangerous. Overloading of vehicles is allowed despite the heightened risk of accidents” said Bilal.
“One of the main reasons for the vehicles falling in gorges is the absence of Crash barriers in the Chenab valley districts of Doda and Kishtwar. The vehicles fall in gorges and there are times when it is hard to find dead bodies” he added.
Pertinently, on February 20 this year, the Jammu and Kashmir Government constituted a four-member high-powered committee to suggest measures for making the Batote-Doda-Kishtwar road accident free.
Besides it, the J & K High Court had also ordered the government to install rolling barriers/steel pillars on curved roads and wherever culverts are discovered, and to file an Action Taken Report (ATR) by the next scheduled hearing date.
However, after no end to road accidents in the region, the locals alleged, it looks like the authorities are not doing much to upgrade the road infrastructure in the region.
Speaking to Kashmir Observer, DC Doda Harvinder Singh said that Wednesday’s tragic accident that left 38 people dead was caused as a result of overloading and over speeding. However, he denied commenting on the frequent road accidents taking place in the district.
“The accident was caused because the driver was moving fast with the overloaded bus” he said.
Pertinently, Jammu and Kashmir ranks second across India in the number of road accidents per 10,000 vehicles with an average of over 900 deaths every year in the last five years.
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