India is on top of the list of road fatalities globally. The central government is set to take some new steps aimed at enhancing safety levels and mobility.
Speaking at the inauguration of a transport trade fair in Mumbai today, Nitin Gadkari, minister for transport, highways and shipping, Government of India, said, “There are a lot of issues in the transport sector. The biggest challenge is to improve safety. In India each year 500,000 accidents take 300,000 lives. To address this issue, the new Motor Vehicle Act has been introduced which will be cleared soon in the Rajya Sabha.”
Gadkari spoke about how he wants to improve the transport system by focusing on e-governance, thereby making it time-bound, transparent and corruption-free. He announced that Rs 11,000 crore has been set aside to improve safety on highways by addressing ‘black’ spots that will help reduce fatalities by 50 percent.
He also said that 2,000 new driving and training centres will be opened in the country, a move aimed at training people and addressing the shortage of 22 lakh drivers in India. The government will provide the necessary financial, infrastructure and other needs for setting up this centres, which will be opened in rural and tribal areas. These centres will be equipped with a testing track, computer testing and individuals who pass the test will get their licenses in three days. If the RTO officer fails to issue the license, he will be penalised.
The government also has plans to convert 175,000 highways to national highways, along with increasing the current 5,000 national highways in India to 22,000.
Gadkari shared his views after inaugurating the first India International Bus and Car Travel Show ‘Prawas 2017’, organised by the Bus Operator Confederation of India (BOCI) in Mumbai. The three-day event (July 28-30) aims to bring all stakeholders to promote safe and smart public transport in India, sees good participation from leading OEMs, bus-chassis manufacturers, tour operators and transport unions, among others.
Highways speed limit to be raised to 120kph
Addressing a comment from a speaker on India’s current speed limit on highways, the transport minister stated that the speed limit will be increased from the current 80kph to 120kph in the next three days. He appealed to OEMs to incorporate better technology and safety and ensure lives are not being risked. He also pushed the cause of indigenous technology. “We will promote and give necessary support to electric, ethanol, bio-diesel, bio-gas, etc (cleaner fuels) buses which are manufactured in India. Don’t expect any subsidy or support for parts or vehicles which are being imported in the country. We will support indigenous technology.”
Gadkari though came down strongly against diesel vehicles, “Main diesel walon ki band bajana chalu karunga. Agar aap badalna chahte ho toh saath lekar chalunga, aur nahin chahte ho toh ghasit ke chalunga, (I will come hard on diesel vehicles, if you want to change then I will lead you, but if you don’t want to change, I will drag you to change).” He said he was ready to support all stakeholders who would opt for cleaner energy.
Urging bus operators to take to greener technologies, Gadkari said the government is working on introducing a double-decker electric bus service in Mumbai and Pune, while also building an electric lane between the Mumbai and Delhi highway. He added that work is also underway on second-generation ethanol and in advanced stages with 25 manufacturers in the country.
He said he would like to see more of buses on Indian roads, which would help cut pollution by private vehicles. Currently 16 lakh buses ply and the aim is 40 lakh.
Also read: No autonomous vehicles for India says Gadkari