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Vested interests opposing road safety bill: Gadkari

Nitin Gadkari

New Delhi : Vested interests opposed to transparency and computerisation in the transport sector are against the new road safety bill but government is committed to enacting the law, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said today.

“Despite our best efforts the Bill (Road Transport and Safety Bill, 2015) which we made could not be introduced in Parliament. This is a difficult problem for us. The Act falls in the purview of concurrent list and both state governments and the Centre have rights. Different lobbies are there who are opposing the Bill,” said the Road Transport and Highways Minister.

Addressing a conference on road safety, organised here by International Road Federation, Gadkari said the proposed Act will not only computerise the entire system, eradicating corruption but is also designed to bring greater transparency and benefit the public.

“The Bill will take care of driving licences and there are other things…vested interest are trying to obstruct this Act. We will implement it effectively,” he said.

The government is committed to undertake the drive for “Accident-free India” on a mission mode and would target school children through cartoons and lessons on road safety besides roping in celebrities like Amir Khan on the issue, he added.

Concerned over India accounting for one of the highest global numbers annually of 1.5 lakh road fatalities, out of 5 lakh accidents, Gadkari said the target initially is to reduce the road accidents by 50 per cent.

“We need to educate our children to create safety awareness. We are preparing lessons for school children besides cartoon films. Celebrities also have been requested to come forward for the noble cause. I had talked film actor Amir Khan, he has assured to come forward,” Gadkari said.

There were adequate provisions for this in the new Bill to penalise heavily those involved in traffic violation but would check faulty driving licences, he said, adding that the government is hopes to get it passed in the next session of Parliament.

Some of the states are opposing the Bill saying that the provisions in it are against the administrative and financial rights of the state.

The Bill incorporates the global best practices and provides for the creation of a National Road Safety and Traffic Management Authority to look after all issues related to vehicle regulation and road safety.

It also seeks to come down heavily on traffic offenders and proposes steep penalties of up to Rs 3 lakh along with a minimum 7-year imprisonment for death of a child in certain circumstances, besides huge fines for driving violations.

Besides a heavy penalty for driving related violations, the Bill also proposes a fine of Rs 5 lakh per vehicle and an imprisonment for faulty manufacturing design. It aims at bringing down fatalities in road accidents by 2 lakh in the first five years.

The government is committed to removing faulty designing in road projects and was identifying black spots to prevent accidents, Gadkari said.

He said the Bill has provisions for automobile sector too in view of the safety concerns to prevent accidents.

“We are also in touch with automobile manufacturers to incorporate more safety features, buyers of vehicles should also go in for vehicles  having more safety features.” he said.

The Bill includes a clause ‘Recall of Vehicles’ wherein it is proposed that a manufacturer may be directed to recall motor vehicles of a particular type or its variants if a defect in that particular type of motor vehicle may cause harm to the driver or occupants or road users.

The vehicle can also be recalled in case of “a defect in that particular type of motor vehicle has been reported by such percentage of owners as the central government, may by notification, specify, and such defect may cause harm to the driver or occupants of such motor vehicle or to other road users”.

Road Transport and Highways Secretary Vijay Chhibber said 10 per cent of the spend on annual plan in the Ministry will go for road safety issues.

He said the government has taken a number of steps to minimise accidents and also there are three pilot intiatives for cashless treatment of road accidents victims in the first 48 hours.

“The Government is mulling to establish the National Road Safety and Traffic Management Board – an apex body to address all road safety related issues in the country by end of this year. The boardwill be focusing on ‘regulation of road safety, traffic management system and safety standards in highway design and construction,” Chhibber said.

He added that the proposed Board will help in the development and regulation of road safety, traffic management system and safety standards in highway design and construction. The board will have overarching powers to seek explanation and issue directions to both government and private agencies on all issues relating to road safety.

“Government will extend its pilot project of providing cashless treatment worth Rs 30,000 to accident victims on all National Highways in the country A pilot project was started on  stretch of Mumbai Baroda and  Ranchi Jamshedpur. Currently the pilot project is running successfully on 226 Km Gurgaon-Jaipur stretch. he added.

IRF Chairman KK Kapila said that with 80 per cent of all road deaths worldwide estimated in low income countries, India accounts for the highest — 10 per cent of global road accident deaths.

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