Anantnag: Thursday’s gruesome road accident on NH-44 which left 2 dead and as many critically injured in Galandar area in Pampore has brought to fore the dangers of the ill-planned junctions on the Srinagar-Qazigund stretch of NH-44.
The accident took place in the afternoon when a speeding truck, carrying boulders, turned over and crushed a Maruti Swift car. The driver of the truck fled from the spot.
The mishap was caught on a CCTV camera and the video has been shared widely over social media with some blaming the truck driver and others the ill-planned Galandar crossing.
Kashmir Reader talked to Amir Maqsood, an engineer from Sopore who worked on a project titled “Road Safety on NH-44” a couple of years ago during his M.Tech.
Maqsood maintains that the Galandar crossing is the site most prone to accidents along the Qazigund-Srinagar stretch of the NH-44. “There are no signs, no lights and the crossing has designing flaws, including that the old NH and NH-44 meet at an acute angle, blinding drivers on both the sides,” he said.
The confusion this designing flaw creates is quite visible if one observes the CCTV footage of Thursday’s mishap.
There are around 5 such junctions, including Galander, along the Srinagar-Qazigund stretch of the NH-44 and all of them have this grave flaw.
“Be it the Barsoo junction, the junction in Awantipora, in Sangam or near Mirbazar, at all these either the old NH is elevated or the new NH-44. It puts almost all the drivers in difficulty,” said Gulzar Ahmad, a Tavera driver who drives between Anantnag and Srinagar almost on a daily basis.
He said that there were no traffic lights nor traffic police monitoring these junctions, making them all the more accident prone.
Other commuters Kashmir Reader talked to echoed Ahmad’s concerns and said the traffic at the junctions only halts when there is movement of government forces’ vehicles.
“Despite the fact that there are huge forces’ bunkers near all of these junctions, there is no one to handle the traffic. The only time uniformed men come out of the bunkers is when they need to frisk vehicles or barricade traffic for movement of convoy,” a daily commuter told Kashmir Reader.
Kashmir Reader talked to the Regional Manager of National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), Hemraj Bhagat, who acknowledged that there is an engineering flaw at these junctions.
“We have been working on the issue and will implement some of the things very soon,” Bhagat said. He added that some modifications have been made to these junctions which were really not in the hands of the NHAI.
“Given the situation here, law and order takes the front seat. But still we are trying our best,” Bhagat said. “It might take us a while to reach the ideal situation but some measures will be taken immediately to mend the situation.”
Maqsood said that the immediate need is to put up signs, speed breakers and “traffic islands” in place where vehicles can halt a bit before further venturing on to the NH-44.
“Also, the roads approaching the NH-44 should be made a little rough where they meet the highway, for drivers often don’t slow down over a properly macadamised road,” Maqsood said.