Accidents had emerged as the daily feature on the 108 kilometres stretch of National Highway (NH) 1A passing through the state and links northern region with NH-1. The highway leads towards Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pardesh from Punjab and very widely used by pilgrims and tourists.
As many as 73 persons had lost their lives while several others injured on this one of the busiest highways of the state since January 2013. Hardly any day is passed when there is no collision and on some days, the number rises to many. On September 9, 2013, at Dasuya police station eight accidents were informed to keep police station staff on toes.
"Two cases were registered and in rest indulged parties reached at compromise," Dasuya Station house officer Pritam Singh revealed.
HT team while travelling noticed intersections on divider after almost every 500 metres. Though, highway authorities had put the signboard showing intersection ahead but at the distance very close to dividers, which almost proves to be of little help for drivers.
Lack of high-mast lights and reflectors are the other missing. "Vehicles parked on roadside during nights proved very dangerous.
There is virtually no patrolling on highways to ask the drivers to move vehicles from that place," said Ashok Kumar, a Dasuya resident while talking to HT.
On October 22 night a truck (PB06-N-2209) hit already stationary truck (PB06-F-9965) near Bhogpur causing serious injuries to driver and cleaner.
"It had been third day today after the accident and the truck is here. It is the main reason for maximum of accidents. The stationary truck driver was changing the punctured tyre at the time of mishap. Had there been police patrolling to guide truck driver to install proper reflectors or move the truck to a side, this could have been avoided," revealed Rajinder Singh, a shopkeeper.
HT team when travelled on highway failed to find any police patrolling vehicle in action. "The staffs are deployed for highway patrolling, vehicles are provided but these hardly move on roads due to fewer diesel provided by the office. How many times, they can refuel their vehicles from their pockets," a policeman from Mukerian police station revealed.
"The patrolling teams had been deputed at different parts on National Highway and I will check why they are not on roads," Mukerian Assistant Superintendent of Police Nanak Singh clarified HT when contacted.
Two-wheelers flout traffic rules on the highway with triple riding, even four persons were seen moving on a motorbike near Bhogpur, underage kids were seen plying two-wheelers, school children on bicycles were seen crossing the roads with vehicles moving at a fast pace, without any fear in their minds.
Boards with vital information like important numbers to be contacted in case of emergency were also missing. "This all exhibits carelessness on authorities' behalf. After so many deaths every year, authorities are still not woken from the slumber and the mishaps can be seen on one part or the other," said Nirmal Singh.
Accident victims narrates horrible tale
Tirath Singh (47) was on the way to his duty on September 4 on motorbike from his native village Datta Nangal when a truck coming from opposite direction failed to notice him when we was overtaking a bus parked outside Uchi Bassi bus stand (the road is single) near Dasuya. He was hit by the truck and a sharp edge of truck cut his right arm which later was amputated by doctors. "On my treatment, I have spent nearly 1.25 lakhs so far but there is no help from the government. I had lost my working-arm. My seniors had sent the case for reimbursement to state government," said Tirath, the reader of Mukerian Station House Officer.
"It is very painful to see him without arm but I am very satisfied that he is alive. For treatment, we have to pay regular visits to Amritsar now," said Pushipinder Kaur, his wife.
For the family of Mirasgarh resident Devi Dass (48), a vegetable vendor, the accident came as the bolt from the blue as the family lost its earning hand.
"My father was on activa scooter, when hit by an unidentified car coming from opposite direction. He was trying to move on other side from a divider. He was the only earning hand of our family. We have not received any compensation so far. From where we will claim compensation under motor accident claims tribunal also is suspense for us," said Ajay Kumar, the elder son.
Amrik Singh, son of 21-year old Jagjit Singh, who had been bed-ridden since last two years after getting hit by a four-wheeler, told HT that he had spent nearly 22 lakhs on the treatment of his son. "I have spent all my money on the treatment and slowly losing hopes now. There is no help from the government and I wish some NGO comes forward to get me out from this financial crunch and treat my son to stand him on feet," he said.
DATA AT A GLANCE
HIGHWAY 1-A LENGTH (IN PUNJAB): 108 Kms (Now it is the part of NH-44 after rationalisation of Highways)
PASSES THROUGH: JALANDHAR, HOSHIARPUR, PATHANKOT DISTRICTS
Accidents Deaths and Injuries (As registered in police records)
2012 (deaths, injuries) 2013 (deaths, injuries)
Pathankot 14, 45 4, 6
Mukerian 21, 14 21,17
Dasuya 7, 3 21, 21
Tanda 8, 4 8, 8
Bhogpur 12,17 17, 12