The fatal circle of deaths and injuries through accidents continues unabated on the Srinagar-Jammu Highway, as is revealed by the official figures accessed by a local news agency, Kashmir News Observer (KNO).
The Srinagar-Jammu National Highway has seen over 8,128 road accidents and 1,750 resultant fatalities in the last decade.
A lifeline to the Kashmir valley, the highway (NH 44) with a total length of above 300 km lies in the Kashmir valley for the first 68 km (up to Qazigund), then passes through a series of dangerous mountains up to Jammu.
All supplies including foods, vegetables and other life-saving essentials are transported through this highway from Jammu towards Srinagar.
The accidents in the Kashmir valley overall are seeing an upward trend, as figures reveal that a total of 10,850 people were killed in 65,398 road accidents across Jammu and Kashmir in the last ten years.
As per data compiled by the traffic department, since 2010, 65,398 road accidents happened in which 10,850 people have lost their lives and 89,597 people received injuries.
In 2010, a total of 1073 persons were killed while 8655 people were injured. In 2011, 1121 persons were killed and 9944 injured. In 2012, the death toll rose to 1165, while 9755 persons were injured, 990 persons died. Around 8681 persons were injured in 2013. In 2014, 992 persons were injured and 8043 were injured. In the year 2015, 917 people were injured and 8142 persons were injured. In 2016, 958 were killed and 7677 were injured. In 2017, 926 were killed and the injured persons were 7419. In 2018, 984 people were injured and 7845 injured. In 2019, a total of 996 persons were killed, 7532 were injured. In 2020, 728 people were killed, while 5894 were injured.
Many analysts from the Kashmir valley blame the pathetic condition of the roads and the Srinagar-Jammu Highway for the increase in the number of accidents on the highway. Though the Government has initiated various projects for the safety and security of the commuters, the slow pace of the work has been questioned from various quarters of the society.
Talking to a news agency, KNO, the Project Manager of Qazigund-Banihal tunnel, Gaurav Gopal said that the work is expected to be completed by April 2021.
“The work on the Qazigund-Banihal four-lane tunnel is expected to be finalised by April 2021,” Gopal said.
The construction of the Qazigund-Banihal tunnel was started over a decade back but missed several deadlines will now make the travel over Srinagar Jammu Highway easier with the less consuming time that will be a major relief for the people of both Kashmir and Jammu division especially for the tourists who visit the Valley to enjoy the snowfall.
Additional Director-General of Police (ADGP) J-K Traffic, T Namgyal told Kashmir News Observer that the human activity has increased massively on the highway and there have been a lot of incursions.
“The local traffic is also plying on the highway which has increased the load on the road, causing problems,” he said.
He blamed the absence of alternate roads to the areas along the highway.
“The highway is more of a city road. We need service lanes and services roads for people who live on the highway,” he said.
Nasir Ali Khan founder of Kashmir Road Safety Foundation (KRSF), an NGO blamed the administrative officials for the increasing accidents on the Kashmir roads.
“There is no smooth flow of traffic on the highways. The drivers should also take care of the speeding,” he said. (KNO)