New Delhi: Terming the street accidents state of affairs in India “much serious than COVID-19 pandemic”, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday mentioned greater than 40,000 kms of highways have been introduced beneath security audit to verify deficiencies inflicting accidents. It is a sordid state of affairs that Indian roads witness 415 deaths per day in accidents, the best on the planet, and losses quantity to three.14 per cent of the GDP, Road Transport and Highways Minister Gadkari mentioned.
India accounts for the best street accidents globally, with 1.5 lakh folks being killed and extra 3.5 lakh crippled yearly.
“Seventy per cent deaths are in the working age group of 18 to 45 years old. There are 415 deaths per day in road accidents in India. I would say this scenario is very much serious than COVID-19 pandemic and it is becoming an alarming situation for us year on year.
“Unfortunately we stand at place 1 within the street accidents on the planet, forward of US and China. Being transport minister, I’m wise and severe for the topic,” Gadkari said. He was speaking after inaugurating a webinar series by road safety body IRF’s India chapter on ‘Road safety challenges in India and Preparation of an Action plan’.
Stating that road safety audit during different stages of development appears to be the most suitable way to correct all deficiencies causing accidents, the minister said more than 40,000 kms of highways have been brought under auditing.
“The street security institutes like IRF together with engineering schools and IITs might help the federal government in street security audits. Each engineering faculty may be given about 300-500 km of street stretch for street security audit with some monetary support. Third-party street security audits will assist in discovering engineering faults and correcting them,” he said.
Underlining that ‘prevention is always better than cure’, the minister lashed out at people behind faulty detailed project reports (DPRs) and sought collaboration from the International Road Federation (IRF) and other bodies for vetting these in a fortnight’s time.
“Many of DPRs are in very dangerous form with a lot of technical deficiencies which create additional black spots (accident spots). DPR needs to be proof-checked and revised by competent authorities, third-party companies, and academic establishments earlier than implementation,” Gadkari said.
The government has proposed a State Support Programme to incentivise the states with Rs 14,000 crore funds, out of which Rs 7,000 crore would be from the Asian Development Bank and World Bank and the balance Rs 7,000 crore from the Centre to improve road safety, he said.
Wondering why other states were lagging on the road safety front when Tamil Nadu could reduce road accidents by 38 per cent and deaths by 54 per cent, the minister urged states to replicate the Tamil Nadu model. He also stressed the need for qualitative, comprehensive and uniform accident data collection and recording.
“In India, 78 per cent of street accident deaths are of two-wheeler riders, bicyclists and pedestrians. Protection and security of those susceptible street consumer group is the foremost precedence of the Centre,” he said. The minister sought the co-operation of all stakeholders to reduce road accident deaths by 50 per cent by 2025 and exuded confidence of achieving it.
The minister also stressed the need for developing digital technologies, drones and app-based platforms and said over 60 per cent of the accidents occur at the road junctions, which clearly indicates that there are deficiencies in their design and construction.
“Can we discover alternate answer for junctions by redesigning them into roundabouts/rotaries, grade separators, flyovers or channelised diversions,” he said, and added the ministry is working on more than 5,000 black spots identified on the highway network.
Gadkari further said the chairman of the National Road Safety Council will be announced soon as this body will be responsible for collecting accident data and suggesting measures to further reduce road accidents. Stressing that 70 per cent of accident deaths In India are due to over-speeding, the minister said fitness check of all vehicles has been mandated through Automated Vehicle Inspection and Certification (I&C) centres.
“Government has just lately introduced scrapping coverage to cope with outdated, unfit automobiles and their security concern. It is predicted that greater than 1 crore such automobiles can be eliminated,” he said. The government plans to shift vehicles to alternate fuel and energy sources like ethanol, methanol, Bio-CNG, LNG, and electricity to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
K K Kapila, President Emeritus, IRF, said, “After the non-realisation of the goal of UN Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011-2020), the Global Community had selected 12 Voluntary Targets to be realised for Road Safety by all nations. The First Target recognized by the Global Community is … decreasing the street fatalities to half by 2030 aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals.”
For implementing and implementing the Motor Vehicle Act 2019 in sincerity, the federal government ought to take away the human interface from enforcement and extensively use Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) applied sciences to seize visitors violations, Kapila added.
Others current within the webinar included Luciana Iorio, Chair – UNECE Road Safety Committee; Bill Halkias, President, IRF Geneva; and T Okay Amla, Secretary, IRF India, amongst others.