Indian Roads Deadlier Than All Wars It Has Fought: Nitin Gadkari
1,48,707 people were killed and 4,82,389 injured across India in road accidents in 2015, according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data. This means more than 407 people were killed in road crashes in India every day.
Commenting on these shocking figures, Union Minister for Road and Transport Nitin Gadkari, who was speaking at the Road To Safety Conclave, a joint initiative by NDTV and Diageo during the Road To Safety Week said, More people have died in road accidents than in all the wars India has fought. Every year around 5 lakh accidents happen, leaving some 1.5 lakhs people dead. Each minute there is one road accident in our country and in every 4 minute there is one death. That’s not a good situation for me and my department, but I accept this sad situation.
India has witnessed five wars till now with 10,253 casualties reported. That makes the number of deaths from road accidents 15 times more than the number of people killed in all the wars fought in the country since independence, states National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data.
Also Read: How Dangerous Are India’s Roads?
Admitting that Indian roads are very safe, Mr Gadkari said the traffic system in the country needed to be overhauled, because the existing road infrastructure has not been able to keep up with the phenomenal increase in the volume of vehicles.
It’s more important for us to save more people from road accidents, than to build more roads. For now that’s our highest priority.
The Ministry’s Road Map To Reducing Road Accidents In India
1. National Highways Strength To Be Raised To 2 Lakh km: In a bid to decongest traffic, the government decided last year to increase the length of national highways from 96,000 km to two lakh km.
There were some flaws in our roads; our first step was to fix it. We then decided to increase the length of national highways from 96,000 km to 2 lakh in the country, said Mr Gadkari. The step was taken by the ministry in order to reduce the road deaths as 40 per cent of the traffic were using national highways, that made up just 2 per cent of India’s road network.
2. Road Engineering And Identification Of Black Spots: “The quality of road engineering in the country is not up to the mark, we need proper highways, subways in order to reduce road accidents in India. Roads should be aligned with international standards, the ministry is keeping all these points in mind” said Mr Gadkari. “We need to identify black spots. We need to improve road design. This is our responsibility.”
In a bid to check the alarming number of road accidents, Mr Gadkari has also asked the states to identify “black spots” on national highways and send a proposal to the Centre for rectification. He also added that the ministry has launched a scheme recently that every district should help in the identification of a black spot in their area together with the help of an engineering college and a corporate company.
“Identification of black spots is important for not just national highways but every one – states, districts, cities, everyone should participate in the process.” added Mr Gadkari.
3. A Push For An Intelligent Traffic System: Mr Gadkari revealed that 30 per cent of the driving licenses in India are fake. He added that the ministry was pushing for intelligent traffic systems which would enable the ministry to immediately track, real-time, whenever there was a traffic violation. He also said that penalties for not following the traffic rules were likely to have a positive impact because people would hesitate to violate rules in the case of hefty penalties.
For now, the main focus of the minister is to get the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill passed. This has already been approved by the cabinet and introduced in the Lok Sabha in August 2016. Since then it has been pending for review with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism, and Culture.
If all goes well at a meeting on January 27 then I need to take (the proposal) to the Cabinet and then to Parliament, said Mr Gadkari. The bill apart from strict norms will also focus on the safety of the road users and road accident victims. It will also include stricter driving licensing norms and penalties for law violators.