June 14, 2016 2:38:22 am
The Group of Ministers constituted by the Central government to guide reforms for the road transport sector recommended a total of 34 changes in the Motor Vehicles Act on Monday and also suggested special measures to reduce the rate of road accidents in the country.
The GoM, which met in Tanda, Himachal Pradesh, made key recommendations that included strengthening of the rural transport system for which the Centre is expected to roll out a scheme. The Central government would provide 50 per cent funding (other 50 per cent will come from states) to introduce new transport vehicles in luxury and semi-luxury categories.
Headed by Rajasthan transport minister Yunus Khan, the GoM was set-up by Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari. Some 24 recommendations have been approved by the GoM in its earlier two meetings. During the meeting on Monday, stress was laid on strengthening of the public transport. Participants proposed the Centre to float new scheme to improve condition of transport utilities in the state, exempt STU (state transport undertaking) buses from taxes and de-regulate the luxury segment to motivate people to shift from personal to public transport services .
The GoM also made a plea to the Centre to address the issues of hill states separately. It also sought to raise accident insurance cover along with covering of property loss in the insurance .
Suggested by Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh, a recommendation was also made regarding improvement in mechanism for helping accident victims and trauma care facilities by launching a comprehensive scheme, setting-up new trauma centres and incentives to attract professionals for trauma care.
The participants also made suggestions to liberalise intra-city taxi permits and other automobile aggregation policies like improving parking facilities for the taxis including other public transport vehicles, steps to promote low-cost last mile connectivity solutions and a barrier-free movement of the freight transport across the states.
A preparatory meeting of principle secretaries of transport of states and transport commissioners was held in New Delhi on April 22, 2016, to crystallise the agenda points for the meeting of the Group of Ministers.
India is facing severe problems in terms of deteriorating road safety. The number of fatalities has been increasing steadily and stands provisionally at 1,46,000 deaths in the year 2015. As a signatory to Brasilia Declaration, India is committed to reduce the number of road accidents and fatalities by 50 per cent by 2020. The road transport sector plays a major role in the economy of the country and bears 75 per cent of the total load of passenger and freight transportation. Its share in the country’s GDP is close to 4.5 per cent. The sector, however, suffers from archaic rules and practices and needs urgent reforms to support the high growth rates of Indian economy.
The Road Transport and Safety Bill was brought by the roads ministry to strengthen road safety as well as improve ease of transport across the country. In order to ensure road safety there is an urgent need to make administrative changes, amend the Motor Vehicles Act and make optimal use of technology to cut down delays.
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