Another fatal road accident, in which two persons were killed here on Sunday, has once again exposed the poor road traffic management in Karnal.
The chief minister’s city extends on both sides of National Highway-1 (NH-1), bypass of ancient Grand Trunk Road, which passes though the heart of the city. The absence of slipways and traffic signals on roads crossing the NH-1 and lack of adherence to the traffic norms are the major causes of road mishaps.
On Sunday, the driver and the conductor of a Haryana Roadways bus were crushed to death after it collided with a Punjab-bound luxury coach. The accident took place when the roadways bus reached the NH-1 and another bus rammed into it at Nirmal Kutiya Chowk.
District officials said though the police investigations were on, it seemed that the drivers of both buses were driving at a high speed and failed to notice each other. In Karnal, there are five junctions — ITI Chowk, Nirmal Kutiya, Government College Chowk, Meerut Road Chowk and Namastay Chowk — where the city roads intersect.
But none of them has traffic lights. While policemen are deputed at Nirmal Kutiya during peak hours, other busy points remained unattended during most of the daytime.
Residents said they were unable to cross the NH-1 due to the absence of traffic lights. A resident Vijay Narula said: “NH-1 is one of the busiest roads of the country, connecting Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and Punjab through Haryana. In the absence of traffic lights, it is very risky to cross the NH-1 and reach other places in Karnal.”
All the five main road junctions lack slipways to NH-1. Residents have been blaming the authorities for turning a blind eye to the issue.
A teacher at a local government college said union minister Krishan Pal Gurjar had inspected the poor road conditions in June this year and had assured to get the slipways constructed at the earliest. “But there has been no change in the situation. With Karnal legislator Manohar Lal Khattar becoming the chief minister, no one, including residents, seems to be worried about road safety. Even in the city limits, residents overlook traffic rules and hardly follow traffic rules,” he said.
Meanwhile, Karnal municipal corporation mayor Renu Bala Gupta said she had ordered the installing of traffic lights and speed breakers near the busy junctions on NH-1. She said: “Yesterday’s incident was very unfortunate as safety actions taken by different agencies involved in the management of NH-1 could have prevented human loss.
This is not for the first time that the absence of these basic requirements has cost the loss of life and property. I will soon meet the chief minister to discuss the ways to make NH-1 a safer place,” she said. Meanwhile, executive engineer, Haryana Urban Development Authority, YM Mehra, said the department had already started planning the construction of slipways to the NH-1. “Owing to the gradual increase in the flow of traffic, the department has decided to construct sliproads at all intersections,” he said.
The project was awarded to Soma Isolux, a private construction company, in 2008. However, the project was delayed due to the alleged poor supply of construction material because of a ban on mining. The Supreme Court ordered Soma to complete the project by March next year, but incomplete structures and diversions at several points have often resulted in road accidents.