Srinagar, Sep 19: As the Jammu and Kashmir roads has witnessed a steep increase in the accidents over the past few years, the state government seems to have forgotten what needs to be done to curb the rising menace of road accidents.
According to the official figures, around 6,000 road accidents have been reported annually for the last two years in the state. The actual number according to officials would be much higher as lots of such incidents go unreported.
Sources said that in 2015, 917 people lost their lives in 5,800 road accidents. In 2016, 910 lives were claimed and over 8,000 suffered injuries by road accidents. That means three people die on an average daily in the state.
Between 2011 and 2014, 3960 people lost their lives by road accidents and more than 30,000 people were injured in over 20,000 road accidents.
“The number of road accidents in Jammu and Kashmir which claim around one thousand lives per year is double than the national average based on population of the state,” one of the top Traffic police officials told Kashmir News Service.
“Over 60 percent of the total natural deaths had been caused by road accidents in Jammu and Kashmir while the national average is around 30 percent,” he added.
According to the reports, preliminary analysis suggested that the accidents were concentrated around highways which are far removed from many city areas. Experts suggest a host of reasons behind rising accidents. From corruption, to rash-driving to poor road planning and inadequate law enforcement, there are many factors responsible for the rise in accidents.
Sources told KNS that House Committee was constituted to study the kinds of accidents and give recommendations to control it. “The panel had come up with a slew of recommendations to the Transport department, Traffic department, R&B department and other agencies concerned for curbing rising road accidents especaily. Ironically, many years have passed but no recommendation has been implemented by the government to prevent traffic accidents,” sources maintained.
In most of the road accident cases, reportedly only few erring drivers have been brought to justice. And majority of these cases, particularly involving accidents on the highways, are closed as ‘not traced’.
Sources said that instead of taking concrete steps to minimize road accidents, the transport department typically compiles figures for the calendar year and then boasts about the less number of deaths every year.. “We’ve been led to believe that things in the last several years were getting much better. But the irony is that even if only ten people are killed annually in the road accidents, it should also be a concern for the government,” says Mohmmad Yousf of Dadsun Kishtwar, who lost his relative in a deadly accident at Kishtwar in last week .
According to the insiders in the transport department, providing the licenses after spending some money was one of the biggest factors behind the reckless driving as licenses were issued even to minors and untrained drivers who get it without the mandatory driving tests.
Sources further told KNS that government of India had initiated a plan to set up a high-tech driving institute in Kashmir region to provide sophisticated training to the drivers, but the plan was shunned as the GoI required 70 kanals of land for the project which couldn’t materialize as most of the state land has been sold through Roshni Scheme.
Sources said that other than the highways (made by the central government), the state government has not done any major improvement on constructing two-lane roads, the result of which is that in the rural areas most of the accidents occur due to the vehicles plying on wrongs sides, or due to overtaking.
Sources said that Jammu and Kashmir also topped the list of “high accidental death-prone areas” in a National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) survey conducted in 2013, which found that an accident in Jammu And Kashmir State has a 64 percent chance of causing death as opposed to 36.4 percent for all of India.
This is a public health emergency that requires immediate action. As a state, we are slowly waking up to the fact that we lead in road crash deaths and injuries. Unfortunately, we are at a primitive stage of resolving this issue. We are still trying to understand that every road death is preventable, and that there are solutions which have been tried, tested and found to be successful in outside countries. To defeat this growing menace of road traffic accidents, there is an immediate need to take some determined action today, suggest one of the social activists.
FB’s #10 yr challenge: Netizens mock languishing govt projects in Kashmir
Srinagar, Jan 20: The #10year challenge–the latest rage on Facebook is triggering an unintended consequence in Kashmir.
It has thrown light on the abysmal pace of execution of key developmental projects.
In Kashmir, the government works are conceived and launched with much fanfare, but years, and in some cases decades, pass before they see the light of day.
The #10year challenge, new fad that has taken Facebook by storm and involves a person juxtaposing his or her decade-old photo with the current one, has seen Kashmiri people sharing photos of the incomplete government works here.
Netizens mostly share two similar photos of an incomplete pillar of the Jehangir Chowk-Ram Bagh (JCRB) flyover project, which was announced in 2009 and is still incomplete.
The project has missed multiple deadlines. To shut up the criticism they were receiving for the delay, the authorities opened up one way traffic on the first phase of the project, the overall completion of which is still a distant dream.
Announced in 2009, the construction on the flyover, funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) at an estimated cost of Rs 359 crore, began in 2013, with September 2016 set as its first deadline. The then chief minister Omar Abdullah had laid the foundation of the flyover.
Apart from JCRB, the other major projects which were started years ago but are yet to be completed include: Boulevard widening project, construction of tunnel on the Mughal Road, and widening of an arterial passage in the capital city, Syed Meerak Shah-Zakura road.
Government had approved the Boulevard widening project in 2009 and had directed the concerned authorities to complete the project on fast-track basis. However, the project is yet to be completed.
The next project following suit is the construction of the tunnel on the Mughal Road.
Fourteen years since the Government of India approved its construction, the project is yet to see the light of the day. The project was approved in 2004, when the PDP shared power with Congress in the state. The proposal was for seven-kilometre long tunnel between Zaznar and Chathapani at 3,000 meters altitude on the 230-year-old Mughal road.
However, the work on the project is yet to be started as a result the road remains closed for nearly six months each year.
Similarly, in 2009 authorities started expansion of the Syed Meerak Shah Road from Dalgate to Zakura, primarily for facilitating smooth flow of vehicular movement through congested areas of old city Srinagar.
The widening project for the 10.33 kilometre road estimated at Rs 336.24 crore was aimed to serve as key surface link to old city Srinagar, Hazratbal shrine and the University of Kashmir. However, ten years have gone by but the project is still lingering.
257 militants killed in 2018 is highest in 4 years
New Delhi, Jan 20: Jammu and Kashmir witnessed the killing of 257 militants in 2018 – the highest in four years – by government forces, official figures show.
A total of 213 militants were killed in 2017, 150 in 2016 and 108 in 2015.
While 142 militants were eliminated in anti-militancy operations till August 31, the rest were killed in the remaining four months.
An official told IANS that August witnessed the killing of 25 militants – the highest in a single month in 2018.
Also, 105 militants were arrested and 11 surrendered in 2018. The number arrested in 2017 was 97, 79 in 2016 and 67 in 2015.
Government forces also secured surrendering a higher surrender of militants in 2018, which was almost six times more compared to 2017. Only two militants surrendered in 2017 against one in 2016. No militant surrendered in 2015.
The data further revealed that the number of violent incidents were also at a peak during 2018 – almost one-and-half times more than 279 incidents in 2017. A total of 223 violent incidents were registered in 2016 and 143 in 2015.
The security forces also seized 153 AK rifles in 2018 — a dip from 213 in 2017, data accessed by IANS revealed. The number was 178 in 2016 and 177 in 2015.
An official deployed in internal security in Jammu and Kashmir said AK-47 assault rifles were the preferred weapon of militants.
The official, who did not want to be named, said that over 300 militants, including foreigners, were still active in the Kashmir Valley, especially in south Kashmir, which is the epicentre of militancy for over three years now.
“And these militants have been continuously attempting to radicalize youngsters in the Valley to take up arms and to shed fear of getting killed,” said the official.
“Militants were known to monitor activities of youngsters on social media – Facebook and Twitter — who are inclined to militant activities and hardcore religious activities,” the official added.
Mehbooba among ‘strongest’ CMs of JK: Beg
Srinagar, Jan 20: Senior Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehboob Beg on Sunday hailed party president Mehbooba Mufti as one of the most consistent and strongest chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir.
Beg, in a statement, said no matter if she is in the government or in the opposition she remained “steadfast”.
“Her politics and conviction finds basis in her ‘pro-people belief’, how she handled the Kathua rape case is a case in-point,” the statement said.
He said that the PDP president resisted the “sinister attempt to disturb and dislodge the tribal community and ensured no politics was played on this issue.”
Beg said: “Mehbooba’s stand was made crystal clear to the all-powerful central government as well, the Home Minister offered unconditional talks, the cases against protestors were withdrawn, the unilateral ceasefire was announced, how can we not appreciate her persisting with pro-people policies and made the BJP agree to matters that were politically inconvenient to them.”
“She took stands very well realizing that she did not have the numbers to dictate terms to the BJP, yet she persisted and since the BJP did not have the intentions to fulfill the terms agreed upon, they had to pull-out,” he said.
He claimed in the statement that the BJP had entered into this coalition by signing on dotted lines, the Agenda of Alliance was a carefully drafted ‘pro-people’ document.
Beg said “it appears that the BJP had no intention to fulfill what they had committed to do, one cannot do much about if somebody intends to cheat and deceive you.”
“We have had people waste historical opportunities. 1996 was a historic opportunity, the government of the day had overwhelming numbers, but did that government dare to take ‘pro-people’ stands? Let history be the judge on that,” he added.