How safe is the Chardham Yatra? TOU

How safe is the Chardham Yatra?
 TOU

How safe is the Chardham Yatra?

Arunesh Pathania
A bus carrying 28 pilgrims from Madhya Pradesh fell into a two hundred feet deep gorge on the Yamunotri National Highway in Uttarakhand on Sunday evening. 26 people died in the accident, four are injured. This is the biggest accident so far of the Chardham Yatra season which started from May 3 this year. Such accidents during the travel season are a matter of concern.

Earlier on May 27, a Bolero loaded with a dozen pilgrims from Maharashtra fell into a gorge on the same national highway unbalanced, killing three pilgrims on the spot. After investigating the accidents on the winding roads of the mountain, the government will give compensation to the dependents of those who died, but effective steps are needed to ensure that accidents do not happen. Every time after the accidents, the government closes its eyes by distributing the investigation and compensation and the circumstances leading to the accident remain the same.

A comparative study of the last five years shows that on an average 1322 road accidents are taking place in Uttarakhand every year, in which 838 people are killed. Widening of roads has given rise to over speeding. On the other hand, there are many places where even two vehicles cannot pass at once. On these roads, drivers drive at high speed, for which people have to pay with their lives.

Talking about the quality of roads in Uttarakhand, after the introduction of the Center’s All Weather Chardham Road Scheme after 2016, now the National Highways in the mountain have improved to a great extent. The width of the roads has doubled as compared to earlier. The turns have become less sharp, but they are still prone to accidents.

Accidents are increasing during Chardham Yatra

One of the major reasons for the dozens of accidents that occur each year during the travel season is the winding roads in mountainous areas, requiring the driver to constantly rotate the steering wheel. On one side there is a mountain and on the other side there is a moat. The fitness of these vehicles is often not complete. In order to make more profit during the travel season, vehicle owners insist on driving more consistently than fitness.

The accident on Sunday has once again raised questions about the carelessness being taken regarding the fitness of the vehicles. In the initial reasons, it has been revealed that the steering of the bus failed, as a result of which instead of turning at the turn, it fell into a two hundred feet deep gorge. For this to not happen again, the Transport Department will have to strictly check the fitness of the vehicles, as well as the old vehicles will have to be removed from the Chardham route immediately.

Overloading is also rampant on this route. A large number of devotees visit Uttarakhand during the Yatra. Booking of vehicles is done from Haridwar and Rishikesh. This is where the game of making more profit with less expenditure starts. Along with the vehicle owner, the passengers are also responsible for this. Instead of keeping an eye on it, the state transport department often keeps its eyes closed. Now if the accident has happened again, there will be checking for a few days, but after some time everything will stop.

In terms of statistics, Uttarakhand ranks 23rd in the country in terms of road accidents, but it is not satisfactory. Except for the Chardham All Weather Road under construction, most of the state highways and connectivity roads in Uttarakhand are in bad shape. The safety standards have been completely ignored on the connectivity routes. Even the usual measures like crash barriers and parfaits are not there.

The government is telling its achievement to visit the Chardham of one million pilgrims in a month, but it is clear that it does not have a strong structure to send so many people back safely. Neither his transport department is serious on fitness and overloading nor is his police ready to stop such things himself.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are those of the author.

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