Kashmir Indepth

Overage vehicles continue to ply on roads, govt unmoved

Ishtiyaq Ahmed

Srinagar, Jul 26 : Despite multiple directives by the concerned authorities, the overage vehicles continue ply on the roads in Jammu and Kashmir posing threat to the safety of passengers.

As per the official figures, over 8000 people died and almost 80,000 were injured in 56000 road accidents during the last nine years in the state. Last year, 984 people lost their lives in 5978 road accidents. The road accidents claimed 926, 958, 917 lives in 2017 and 2016, and 2015 respectively.

This year too, there is no letup in the road traffic accidents. In June this year, two major road accidents happened, claiming 46 lives. One took place when a minibus skidded off the road and plunged into a deep gorge in Kishtwar district. In another accident, a Tempo crashed after plummeting around 500 feet down a gorge along the mountainous Mughal road in Shopian district.

An official of Traffic Department told that there were varied reasons for increase in road accidents. “One main reason is that vehicles are not in good condition in the state. Hundreds of over age vehicles are plying on the roads,” he said.

The State Road Transport Corporation had 1603 vehicles in 1989, including 978 buses and 625 trucks. However, the number reduced to 847 which included 528 buses and 319 trucks. Among these, 397 are overage vehicles. It has been found that buses, which are more than 15-years-old, contribute a lot of pollution. Vehicle emissions contribute to rise in levels of toxic carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter.

In April 2012, a House Committee headed by CPI M leader and former MLA MY Tarigami submitted a detailed report to the government with a slew of recommendations for the transport, traffic, R&B, and other departments to curb growing road accidents.

The Committee concluded that increase in the number of vehicles, narrow and faulty roads, negligent driving and ageing vehicles were among the reasons for the growing accidents in J&K.

Last year, the government introduced the Jammu and Kashmir Road Safety Council Act, 2018, which advocated the formation of a State Road Safety Council.

According to the bill, the proposed council would advise the state government regarding the transport safety measures.

Now as per the official documents, the government has proposed to subsidise 500 new large buses in the private sector.

“Accordingly, Rs 25 crore has been provided in the budget. Transport Department in consultation with Finance Department will work out the modalities/guidelines in this regard,” the documents read.

Urban transportation particularly in the cities of Srinagar and Jammu cities comprise mainly of matadors. The bus service in these two capital cities is “completely absent” causing increased traffic volume on the roads. (KNS)

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