Figures accessed by a local news agency on the number of accidents and deaths on the Kashmir highway in a decade have revealed an alarming trend.
The report said there have been over 8,128 road accidents and 1,750 fatalities in the last decade on the highway, which connects the valley with the rest of the world.
A lifeline to the Kashmir valley, the highway with a total length of less than 300 km runs for 68 kms in the valley up to Qazigund, and then passes through a series of dangerous mountain passes 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 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 were injured.
In 2010, a total of 1073 persons were killed while as 8655 people were injured. In 2011, 1121 persons were killed and 9944 injured. In 2012, the death toll rose to 1165, while as 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 as 5894 were injured.
Many blame the pathetic condition of the roads and the highway for the increase in the number of accidents.
Additional Director-General of Police J&K Traffic, T Namgyal told the news wire that the human activity has increased massively on the highway and there has 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.
The report said though the succesive government initiated various projects for the safety and security of the commuters, the slow pace of the work has hindered the efforts.
The Project Manager of Qazigund-Banihal tunnel, Gaurav Gopal, said that the work is expected to be completed by April 2021.
The construction of the Qazigund-Banihal tunnel was started over a decade back but missed several deadlines is expected to make the travel easier and less time consuming.