The Himachal Pradesh Governor Acharya Devvrat showed deep concern over the frequent road accidents in this hill State and sought the outcome of all the inquiries conducted by the Government after each mishap. The Chairman of Social Welfare Council of India, Mr. Rajeshwar Singh Negi who submitted a memorandum to Governor on Aug 23rd said that after receiving the memorandum Governor showed deep concern on the recurring Bus accidents in the State.
He said that the Civil Rights group discussed the issue with the Governor and apprised about fragile road safety and Public transport in the State, who appreciated the concern and decided to summon all Reports of Inquiries conducted by the Himachal Pradesh Government and action undertaken in this regard, as also setting up of a State Road Safety Council, increase of Ex-Gratia Compensation etc.
The Governor was deeply concerned and assured the Council Chairman of seriously looking into the matter and ensuring Road safety and preventing loss of innocent lives in Bus accidents was made a top priority. He said that HRTC and also Private Buses in Himachal Pradesh, causing the death of hundreds of people and grievous injury to hundreds more every year, due to gross negligence and non-adherence of road safety norms and provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act-1988. The buses have become death traps in the State, and the failure to either address or take adequate preventive measures by the State Transport Authorities is highly deplorable.
This year alone six major bus accidents occurred in past seven months. He said that the Public Bus Transport is the primary mode of travel as also the lifeline of the State Despite the availability of requisite technology and sufficient resources, such devaluation of precious human life is against the spirit of responsible governance and public welfare. That the State has abdicated its responsibility regarding ensuring passenger safety, limiting itself to ritual announcements of Inquiries, handing over of compensation after every road tragedy, which in no way either help prevent such future mishaps or compensate the incalculable loss of lives and livelihoods of its people.
The new Transport Policy of 2014, as also the plethora of Transport agencies set up in the State are unfortunately solely focused on revenue generation and have become commercial ventures, instead of facilitating safe and convenient road transport. As per the Survey conducted by the Committee of the Social Welfare Council of India and its feedback 80 per cent of all road accidents involving heavy vehicles especially Buses in Hills result from over speeding and negligence of Drivers, 5 p c from technical failure and the remaining 15 p c from ill maintained roads, all avoidable causes.
The road accidents account for the highest percentage of deaths by far from any calamity in the State, which has the dubious distinction of topping the list of Public Transport accidents among all Hill States in India. Bus travel is the principal form of travel in the State, as such urgent road and Traffic safety measures, strict compliance with Traffic rules, technical inspection of Public transport, and an accountable regulating authority, need to be put in place.