Asserting that saving lives on the roads was more important than building highways, road transport minister Nitin Gadkari on Monday steered the passage of a new Bill that seeks to reduce accidents, increase penalties for traffic violations and address corruption issues in the road sector in India. The Lok Sabha passed the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill, 2016 with all parties supporting the Bill even as Gadkari assured Opposition members that whatever concerns about nitty-gritty of the new law they had would be addressed.
“India is known to be a place where maximum deaths happen due to road accidents. This is not something to be proud of. I believe saving lives is more important than building highways. This new Bill seeks to address that,” Gadkari said while replying to the discussion on the Bill. “Once we (BJP) complete 5 years, we would be able to save 50 per cent lives lost due to road accidents. We are working towards it,” he said. He told the House that
1.5 lakh people die of road accidents in India every year.
All efforts would be made to eliminate corruption in the sector, Gadkari said and claimed that after the Bill becomes law, “no bogus driving licences would be made and there would be no theft of the vehicles once there is e-governance.”
“Even I, being a minister, will not be able to get a licence without going through the processes of passing the exams and tests,” he said. The Bill was passed by a voice vote after several opposition amendments were rejected, including one moved by a CPI(M) member on enhancing the compensation in case of accidents, was defeated by 37 votes in favour and 221 against.
There should be uniformity in the rules concerning issuance of driving licences, the minister said, adding that through “e-governance, there would be provision of electronic registration.” The Bill seeks to “save lives” by ushering in radical reforms in the motor vehicles law to slap heavy penalty on traffic violators, protecting good Samaritans and making vehicle-makers responsible for design defects to cut road accidents.
The Bill seeks to make services like issuance of licence totally transparent and online and provides for punitive action against officials in case of delay in issuing of the document to eligible applicants.
Under the new system, everyone will have to go to the license issuing authorities under a uniform procedure and if the license is not issued in 3 days, then the RTO will have to face action. A learner’s licence can be availed online sitting at home.
Gadkari expressed concern over a large number of road accidents due to drunk driving and said that the government was thinking of strict action against such people.
The government, he said, has already 786 black spots across the country, which are most accident-prone. Euro VI emission norms, Gadkari added, would be made mandatory from April 1, 2020.