It was snowing and raining but authorities decided to keep the Jammu-Srinagar highway open. While there are gains and pitfalls behind such a decision, the rationale must not weigh over the safety of commuters. In a tragic incident, a young man from Bemina Srinagar lost life after a big boulder hit his vehicle in Ramban district. This incident actually forced the authorities to close the strategic highway.
More often than not, the tragic incidents keep on repeating along the highway, synonymous to lifeline for the people of the Kashmir Valley for dependency on food and other essentials.
The strategic thoroughfare has tragically, and historically too, consumed numerous lives. The death of any person is colossal and no amount can bring back to families who lose their loved ones, their bread-earners.
Unfortunately, there seems to be no end to it as the successive governments have not taken enough measures to address the issues.
Many precious lives were lost in the recent past and it was not because of any negligence of the drivers but only on account of shooting stones and the landslide which is attributable to the failure of timely completion of the road widening projects.
Whether there is negligence on part of the officials or could these deaths have been averted is a matter of inquiry but the government shall not be a silent spectator on the issue of deaths, which are taking place frequently on the highway.
Should the contractors and their associate sub-contractors undertaking the widening of the road in Ramban, a fragile sector, are not to be held responsible and FIRs registered against them taken to logical conclusions? Except for a brief period of time, the highway has proven a nightmare for commuters due to the pathetic condition of the road. Ramban sector is proving more dangerous and there is a likelihood of it earning the dubious nickname of a death trap road especially due to the digging and widening process undertaken in disregard to the peculiar and fragile geology of the area where shooting stones and falling boulders are a routine. J&K High Court has passed a slew of directions while top administrative brass including the lieutenant governor and the chief secretary of J&K from time to time made orders encompassing the need to complete the project within a timeframe and adopting safety measures. Strict compliance of the directions and the orders is required so is the need to make those at fault accountable.