Union Minister Nitin Gadkari today pulled up officials for slow pace of work to fix accident-prone spots and even warned them of strict action if concrete results do not come by within six months.
During a video conference with regional officers of NHAI and the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Gadkari asked them to do the job on a “war-footing” to correct 786 black spots that see large casualties.
“Make detailed project reports more stringent by incorporating improved provisions of traffic signals, crash barriers and other safety features. Expedite land acquisition. Bring results. We cannot allow people getting killed on roads every day. Do not work on papers alone, visit spots,” the road transport and highways minister told officials.
Regionals officers of NHAI from Tamil Nadu, Meghalaya, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and other states attended the video conferencing. When officials brought to his notice that it was drunk driving and related issues that mostly lead to accidents, the minister asked them to correct road engineering designs, saying “reforms should be visible in six months”.
He also asked them to speed up land acquisition and utility shifting. “Our aim is to bring down accidents by 50 per cent. We see 500 deaths in road crashes every day, which does not happen in even wards and epidemics,” the minister said while briefing the media later.
For good measure, Gadkari said regional officials will be given more power so that it leads to better execution of policies. As many as 786 accident black spots have been identified across the country and the ministry has a target to fix these at an estimated Rs 11,000 crore, including Rs 2,000 crore through road engineering.
The list has been drawn up based on data provided by various states covering such spots under their jurisdiction. The ministry will rope in international engineers to improve road design so that mishaps can be minimised.
India accounts for one of the highest number of road accidents globally. About 1.5 lakh people are killed in 5 lakh road crashes here annually that leave 3 lakh maimed. The cost of such accidents is estimated at 3 per cent of GDP.
The government has already come up with a national action plan aimed at reducing road accidents by half by 2020. Also, the proposed Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill, 2016, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha in the just-concluded session, has several provisions of road safety, including stringent penalties for those violating traffic norms.