With 29 deaths and over 100 serious injuries in a period of only 21 days of June month has made Ropar-Nawanshahr-Phagwara a virtually slaughter stretch for the passengers. However, the traffic police and the state transport department are still to wake up from its slumber, with no effort being made from both to save the human lives.
There is virtually no control of the traffic police on this 82 kilometre killer stretch that starts from Asro village, bordering Ropar and ends at Maili village near Phagwara under Nawanshahr district where more than 3.5 lakh vehicles ply everyday on an average and the police personal are found issuing challans only in the towns situated on this road.
Even as Nawanshahr SSP Snehdeep Sharma himself admits that over speeding of vehicles has emerged as the biggest reason behind the fatal accidents in the recent past, still no special drives have been carried out to sensitise the passengers and the district traffic police have no speed radars to check the speed of the vehicles.
The old style speed radars available with the district police too aren’t functioning as per sources as the batteries used in these radars have developed some technical faults.
“The priority of the traffic police personnel is to erect nakas on the entry or the exit points of the towns. I hardly remember any special drive conducted by the police to check the flow of traffic on the long stretches where drivers do over speed and that result in accidents,” said Kailash Khanna, who travels daily from Phagwara to Ropar for business purpose.
There are more than 10 stretch identified by the district traffic police as the black spots for the accidents at Behram, Jadla village, Garhi Kanugo Chowk, also referred to as “Khooni Morh”, Kathgarh, Old Military Canteen, Ambedkar Chowk, but the police have not shown any effort to slow down the traffic flow on these stations.
Even the June 12 bus accident that claimed 15 lives when an over-speeding bus overturned and rammed into a tree in Behram have failed to wake up the district police as even after that no sincere efforts have been made to check the flow of the traffic.
Private buses plying on this road could be seen moving with very high speed and sources in the police said not even a single bus had been challaned for this violation after June 12 accident.
There are three highway patrol police vehicles that keep tab on the traffic on this road, but these vehicles are also ill equipped to monitor traffic.
“We do erect barricades on black spots to slow down the traffic. What can we do about the long stretches where drivers over speed that result in accidents while losing control over the vehicles,” stated the SSP.
He claimed that in coming days the district police would be coming out with a special strategy to check the flow of traffic on the road and carry challans for the violators. “We appeal the passengers also not to violate the basic rules of driving on this busy road and drive with full attention,” the SSP said.
Is widening of the road only option?
The police claimed that the two lane stretch was heavily loaded and till the road was not widened, there was very little chance to control the traffic on this road.
But the question remains if people would continue to lose their lives due to delay in widening of this stretch. Figures obtained from police claimed that ever since the project to widen this national highway 344-A into four lane was announced by deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal five years back, more than 700 people have died in major accidents on this road. Because of shortage of money, the project is hanging on fire.
“Akalis have no vision and no planning for the roads of the state and if you will check the newspapers of last eight years, each year you will get the false claims by the deputy CM about widening of this highway.
This government has money to develop roads in New Chandigarh but when it comes to the only road that connects Chandigarh to Amritsar via Doaba, their coffers are empty,” said Kapurthala Congress MLA Rana Gurjeet Singh.