A day after the end of the Budget Session of the Parliament, the Road Safety Network has written to the Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari to issue an Ordinance on road safety. The national coalition of road safety organisations has demanded extraordinary measures ahead of dissolution of the Lok Sabha and the impending lapse of the Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill. The road safety legislation is pending in Parliament since 2017.
The Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill, 2017 was introduced for consideration and passage in the Rajya Sabha in the Winter Session of 2017. However, after the failure to get the Bill passed and the country looking at imminent lapse of the Bill, the network urged the government to take the extraordinary measure of issuing an Ordinance.
Ranjit Gadgil, programme coordinator of city-based NGO Parisar, in a statement issued Friday, said: “The transport minister had committed to bring a strong road safety law following the demise of Gopinath Munde in a road crash in 2014. Since his efforts in Parliament to pass the Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill have not been successful, we urge the minister to issue an Ordinance in the interim on this important issue.”
India has the dubious distinction of being the number one in the world in road crash deaths. Every year, nearly 1.5 lakh people are killed in road crashes and another 5 lakh are severely injured, many of them are disabled for life. The Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill, 2017 was aimed at tackling this pandemic by strengthening the road safety policy framework in the country through introduction of various provisions related to road safety, such as stricter penalties for egregious violations and the ability to hold road contractors liable for defective designs and poor maintenance of roads.
India is a signatory to the Brasilia Declaration, where the country made a commitment to reduce road crash deaths by 50 per cent by 2020. “The deadline is fast approaching, and India is nowhere close to meeting the target. In order to save lives, India must urgently update and modernise its road safety legislation. An Ordinance in the interim will be a strong step in that direction,” Gadgil said.