Batote-Doda Road- a Killer made by Political Irresponsiveness

Golden yug
[ May 12, 2017 ] Despite of having status of second important National high way in the state, Jammu-Batote-Kishtwar road has killed hundreds of people till the date. The foundation of ‘Chenani-Nashri Tunnel’ had shown the ray of hope among the people of Chenab Valley to release their fear of death but it hardy provided them safety after reaching at Batote. For instance, the major insecurity of travelling prevails from Batote to Kishtwar due to defective terrain of road connectivity. The road stretch is badly affected with heavy landslides, earthquakes and floods due to increase in water level of adjoined river-Chenab caused by various dams. The road connects two giant districts of the Jammu province-1. Doda covers the population of 409,936 and 2. Kishtwar covers the population of 230,696. According to geological survey, the entire 30 km long road between Assar and Pul Doda has been declared as unsafe highlighting that Chenab waters stored after the construction of Baglihar dam have started weakening lose soil rocks along the road stretch which forms part of the Batote-Doda national highway 1A in the state. This is how such a huge chunk of population has left with struggling for survival of their lives while travelling on the road. On the other side, the road is considered as the life line of Chenab Valley, but hardly any attention has been made towards sufferings of people occurred on this road. For instance, hundreds of people had have lost their lives in the road accidents; Among them some have become unable to stand/walk, see well, and eat well, because many of the victims have lost their important body parts-leg, arms and feet permanently. Therefore, the bad condition of road has not only caused the loss of lives or physical deformity but also has been failed to make the people move safely outside the valley for various reasons. The parents feel unsafe to send their children outside for education and in return the children living outside also prohibit their parents to visit their current city. There is constant fear among the people-parents, children, relatives, friends while travelling on this road from both the sides. Moreover, the people in case of emergency like illness have been also unable to reach the Government Medical College Jammu timely for quality treatment; the road also fails to protect the people due to heavy traffic and bad weather conditions in the area. For instance, many people loses their lives on the way before reaching at hospital (which is comparatively qualitative) for treatment. Such a dangerous condition of the road has made life harsh and terrified and also has affected all the sectors of life-travelling, tourism, economy, education and health badly. On the other side, such an irresponsiveness of government puts a question mark on the human rights discourse in the state. For instance, there had has been wide talks on human rights violation in the state at various levels but the constant loss of human lives in accidents due to defective road infrastructure is hardly covered, described, unearthed and addressed under the debate. Since the decades how the constant unnatural deaths caused by political and administrative irresponsiveness and unaccountability were unconsidered under the debate of human rights violation in the state? How the human rights discourse has been partial, exclusive and one-dimensional? How the concept of human rights has been unexpanded beyond its military dimension in the state? There has been hardly any coverage to the issue which is non military in nature but constitutes the human rights violation. In order to address the current problem, there is need to widen the scope of human rights approach to cover also the human rights violation caused by non-military means-Road accidents, to prevent the politicians from earning the money from ‘Road Politicallessness’ (which means repairing the roads again and again just to earn the money rather than providing any alternative safe quality road to the people). “Until the political leadership will become Responsible, Accountable and Political the road will not stop its witch haunting” The focus should be on implementing the plan of new tunnel based national high way from Batote to Kishtwar via Sudhmaha Dev which is already sanctioned project by the central government. Covering the issue of road accidents under human rights debate, preventing the politicians from corruption by making them political and implementing the aforesaid project will only emancipate the people of Chenab valley from this unnatural death/its fear. (The Author is a Research Scholar from Department of Public Policy and Public Administration, Central University of Jammu)