One person was killed and six others were injured when a massive landslide struck the Jammu-Srinagar highway in Ramban district. Unfortunately the tragic incidents keep on repeating along the thoroughfare, synonymous to lifeline for the people of the Kashmir Valley for dependency on food and other essentials.
The strategic highway 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.
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.
Ramban sterch 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.
Lieutenant governor and the chief secretary of J&K have been passing directions from time to time 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.
Minimizing disruptions and ensuring uninterrupted traffic on highways the year has been an endeavor of the successive governments. It is the only road-link of Kashmir with the outside world. Officially the thoroughfare is an all-weather road which connects J&K’s twin capitals of Srinagar and Jammu. However, it has perennially been a nightmarish experience for people. The 270-km long road remains shut for days due to shooting stones, landslides, soil-erosion, frost and other weather related occurrences, not only in winter but also in other seasons. Of late shooting of stones at places affects the smooth traffic flow more than other impediments. The traffic disruptions on strategic road cause economic losses.
Whether there is negligence on part of the officials or could these deaths be averted is a matter of inquiry but more measures are needed to find answers to routine troubles.
One would expect the construction work along the highway to be accelerated along with erecting the defences at various places to prevent the shooting stones from blocking the thoroughfare.