HC expresses concern over road accidents in J&K, forms panel
An experts’ panel to visit and inspect Jammu-Srinagar National Highway -44 and NH 244 that connects Khanabal- Achabal- Kokernag- Daksum- Sinthan pass -Thathri in Doda and Mughal Road
Amid frequent road accidents taking heavy toll on human lives, a division bench of the high court (HC) of J&K and Ladakh on Thursday directed the constitution of an experts’ panel to visit and inspect Jammu-Srinagar National Highway (NH-44) and NH 244 that connects Khanabal- Achabal- Kokernag- Daksum- Sinthan pass -Thathri in Doda and Mughal Road to ascertain reasons responsible for the accidents.
Taking serious note of the accidents at Mughal Road, Batote-Doda-Kishtwar stretch and Ramban, the division bench of chief justice N Kotiswar Singh and justice Moksha Khajuria Kazm directed that the experts’ panel consists of a professor from IIT Jammu having expertise in road safety, an engineer to be nominated by the chief engineer SAMPARK, an executive engineer to be nominated by the chief engineer public works department (R&B), Jammu, and professor GM Bhat, former head of the department of geology, University of Jammu.
Professor Bhat is an acclaimed expert in land slides on national highways. The division bench further directed that Jammu divisional commissioner Ramesh Kumar Jangid, who is already appointed as nodal officer in this PIL, will coordinate the functioning of the experts’ committee.
These directions were passed on three public interest litigations (PIL) filed by Intikhab Ahmed Qazi of Bar Association Doda and Asif Iqbal Bhat highlighting frequent road accidents, which have caused enormous loss of human lives in Pir Panjal and Chenab Valley regions.
Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed, Syed Asim Hashmi, Rahul Raina, Supriya Chouhan, M. Zulkarnain Chowdhary, Suraj Singh, Syed Majid Shah and Adnan Mushtaq Jaral appeared on behalf of the petitioners whereas advocate Vishal Sharma, deputy solicitor general of India and senior additional advocate general SS Nanda appeared for Union of India and J&K government, respectively.
The expert committee has been directed to submit its report by or before the first week of February next year. The PIL will come up for further proceedings on February 13.
It may be recalled that at least 39 people died and 17 others were injured after a passenger bus veered off a mountain road and rolled 300 feet down a hill in Doda district’s Assar area.
Last year, 805 people died and 8,372 were injured in road accidents across the union territory.