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The deadly roads of Chenab Valley

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Inter-district routes have consumed several lives while authorities remain unmoved

By: SHAFQAT SHAHEEN SHEIKH

Since several decades now, series of road accidents have claimed hundreds of innocent lives in Chenab valley and its adjoining areas, the recent accident at Gandoh Bhalessa road in which half a dozen passengers were killed and several others injured, is one in the series of accidents that took place in Bhalessa area of Doda district. The reasons aren’t any mystery here and yet the authorities haven’t paid any heed to the dance of death on these roads.

The lack of vigil leads to rash driving on the worst roads of this area resulting in accidents every now and then and helpless passengers can’t do anything about it as their work engagements require them to travel every day despite them being fully aware of the dangers involved

In most of the cases, accidents have been attributed to over-loading and bad condition of road. In some cases, the buses and other vehicles that have fallen into Chenab River have not been traced and the passengers also remained untraced for months together. Some of the bodies were sadly recovered from Chenab River tens of kilometers downstream after many weeks. The spate of accidents in the recent past, were also caused by dilapidated road conditions and some of the roads are just not fit to ply vehicles. The inter-district roads of Kishtwar and Doda are the glaring example of worse condition of road.

The Government and its agencies wake up to the situation only after some major accident has taken place and that was precisely depicted after the recent incident when District Development Commissioner suspended XEN R&B Wing Gandoh when people had already lost their lives to the negligence of the department.  The Government agencies often go into deep slumber after announcing half-hearted measures to check the number of accidents and promises to improve the road conditions as well as the commuter services. Everything is forgotten once the anger of the people goes off after a week or a month. No Government in the past has bothered to improve the commuter services for the convenience of the people living in far flung areas when dependable and reliable transport operations are totally missing in the Chenab region.

Inter district routes of Chenab Valley are so dangerous and consume so many lives on a daily routine due to slides and other bad road conditions apart from rash and unprofessional driving. The concerned departments take no precautionary measures to ensure peoples safety.

I, along with many colleagues,  have personally tried to impress upon the administration to take necessary measures for ensuring the safety of the people here but the concerned departments have always shown negligent attitude and thus there is no respite from traffic mishaps. The traffic police is also playing game with precious lives by allowing transporters and drivers without due checks on such dangerous roads just for some bucks they shame themselves with.

It is bitter truth that, soon after a traffic accidents happens representative, political leaders go on newspapers and television channels to express their condolence messages and expresses sympathy with bereaved families while keeping their eyes shut to the reasons for such unfortunate happenings.

Comprising of twin districts including Doda and Kishtwar, all the inter-district routes have become accident prone as no check points are established to curb the overloading , rash driving, use of mobile phone while driving and others such human errors that cause accidents. There is need of traffic check points on every 5 kilometers in the twin districts and need of hour is to create post of SSP Traffic for District Doda and Kishtwar who would ensure smooth traffic management for this huge landscape. Areas including Thathri Kilhotran , Thathri Bunjwah, Kishtwar Chatroo , Kishtwar Padder , Doda Bhadrwah and various other routes of Chenab Valley are specifically dangerous and need to be improved for securing human lives.

‘Global Peace Foundation’ Jammu and Kashmir, had demanded personal intervention of Governor Shri Satya Pal Malik and DGP Shri Dilbag Singh to create post of SSP Traffic for twin districts and check out the ground cause of accidents happening in every upcoming day. But as on date, nothing has happened and people continue to suffer.

The author is resident of Neglected Bunjwah and is Freelance Journalist, Columnist and Human Right Activist.  shafqatshaheensheikh@gmail.com

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