Nagpur: “Road safety is the highest priority for our government because every year five lakhs accidents and 1.5 lakh deaths happen. I am more serious and commited to preventing road accidents and bringing them down by half at least than constructing new highways ” Gadkari said while inaugurating a conclave on Road safety organized jointly by United Spirits and NDTV with Diageo.
Gadkari pointed out that India is critically facing the problem of road accidents.
“We have 96,000 km of road length as national highway and 40 percent of our national traffic is on just two percent of this road — one of the reasons of accidents on the national highway,” he added.
He further said that the government is soon going to implement an Intelligent Traffic Management System in India. Hee also pointed out that Road Engineering will be given more attention.
” I am ashamed to point out that 30% of driving licenses issued in India are ‘fake’ i.e. obtained through touts” said India’s Transport Minister.
He also opined that people who are caught with drunk driving and other traffic violations get away too easily. Like in USA, we will start suspending repeat offenders’ driving license and also make punishments for violations more strict, he promised.
“Regarding the rules and regulations of the road sector in India, India is a federal system. The state governments are equally responsible for that. So making unanimity on this subject is a big task” he added.
Talking about the Road Safety Bill, Gadkari said the agenda of the bill was prepared by considering the rules and regulations in the US, Canada and Singapore.
Others who spoke at the conclave were from the NGO sector some of whom were accident victims themselves. (As was Gadkari himself).
“65% of the road accidents happen on National Highways. We have displaced villages to build highways and the requirements of these villages were not considered, only the requirement of the traffic was thought of and a road built, without any other thought about safety. The biggest weakness is that there are no signages for speed limits. There are no highway patrol systems either”: Rohit Baluja, President at Institute of Road Traffic Education.
“We don’t have facilities on highways but we have alcohol shops ever 1 minute. The reason is that state governments are placing too much importance on collecting revenue. It will take 2 to 3 years for the Supreme Court (SC) order banning liquor shops on highways to be completely enforced because states will protest. The order asks for the immediate removal of alcohol advertising but it is still there. Despite the fact that the Police authorities are supposed to be accountable for the implementation of the SC order” said Harman Singh Sidhu, Founder of ArriveSAFE NGO and Former Accident Victim.