PALAMPUR: Repeated road accidents near Chamba leading life-loss of thirty people have lately put a safety question mark in the minds of the passengers. You will be astonished to acknowledge that over 150 innocent persons have lost their lives in different road mishaps in the state in past three months and every third day an accident is reported!
In Himachal Pradesh â€œan accident free dayâ€ is a news while the heavy casualties have become a matter of routine. Almost after every accident the state government orders probe into cause of accident, but no follow up action is taken on such reports. Sometimes vital issues are pointed out in such reports by the inquiry officer, such as improvement of particular portion of road where the accident was taken place but such reports remain confined to files and ultimately thrown to dust bin.
Tall claims made by the Himachal Pradesh government to check the motor accidents in the state are only confined to files and nothing worthwhile has been done to ensure the passenger safety in the state. Though the state government is well conversant with the situation that 98 percent of the total population of the state are dependent on the road transport but the passenger safety has completely been neglected.
In most of the mishaps the private buses, maxi cabs and taxis were involved, it seems that state government did not learn any lesson and it has still been granting route permits to private transporters merely on political considerations, without looking into the conditions of those roads where the vehicles are to be plied. No one in the government is bothered to verify whether the roads for which permits were being issued had been issued are traffic worthy or not.
Though there has been manifold increase in the light and heavy vehicles in the state in past five years, state and interstate traffic has also gone up but no efforts were made to improve the roads accordingly, the width of most of the roads are the same as it was 30 years ago. The state government has announced various steps for the widening of roads but very little improvement has been done in this field so far. Even the conditions of national and state highways is worst in state
In the absence of â€œpolitical willâ€ most of such projects have been hanging fire. The conditions of internal roads in the state are worst where frequent bus accidents are taking place. Rampant corruption is prevailing in state public works department. Most of the road contracts were awarded at the behest of ministers and MLAs, therefore, inferior quality of materials are used for the construction of roads and its retaining walls , which have been collapsing daily resulting in fatal accidents.
According to official figures in past eight years, over 5000 persons in the state have lost their lives in different road accidents while over 45320 were injured. The state has a high rate of accident because of its difficult topography and narrow roads.
The another factor responsible for sharp increase of bus accident in the state is attributed to rampant corruption prevailing in the licensing wing of the transport department. No proper procedure and rules are followed while issuing the driving licenses. In fact the licenses are not issued but sold . It is alleged that at present RS 10000 to 15000 is charged for the grant of a driving license for the heavy vehicles in the state.
A senior journalist from Palampur.