Updated: November 29, 2021 1:18:30 pm
THE CENTRE’S Good Samaritan scheme, meant to encourage and felicitate those helping road accident victims, has received a tepid response from the states more than a month since its launch.
The Road Transport and Highways Ministry announced this scheme so that taking a road crash victim to hospital is not just hassle-free but there is also the incentive of a reward and recognition.
Historically, Indians are reluctant in taking victims to hospital because of associated legal processes and investigations that follow.
To address that, the Centre inserted Section 134A in the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019, which deals with “Protection of Good Samaritans”. It says that a Good Samaritan will not be liable for any civil or criminal action for any injury to or death of the victim of an accident involving a motor vehicle, where such injury or death resulted from the Good Samaritan’s negligence in acting or failing to act while rendering emergency medical or non-medical care or assistance etc.
However, despite the Centre willing to give an initial grant of Rs 5 lakh for it, states have not even opened bank accounts to get the money. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, which sent out a reminder last month, will send another one to states to operationalise the scheme, sources said. The Centre also wants to felicitate the top ten Good Samaritans in Delhi during the Road Safety Month next year.
The scheme entitles any person, who helps save a life by taking a road crash victim to the hospital, to a reward of Rs 5,000 per accident. The new law is that the “Good Samaritan” is free to not disclose their name to the hospital or law enforcement authorities; they can also choose not to take part in any legal process involving the accident.
“Any individual who has saved the life of a victim of a fatal accident involving a motor vehicle by administering immediate assistance and rushing to hospital within the golden hour of the accident to provide medical treatment would be eligible for the award. An individual Good Samaritan can be awarded maximum five times in a year,” the ministry said. Golden hour is the critical one hour period from the accident.
To popularise the scheme, states have to publicise it adequately. It is meant to penetrate to the district level where the local administration is supposed to keep a record of the Good Samaritans and enter their details in a Central website on a monthly basis.
“The point of the scheme is not the money but the awareness among the people that taking an accident victim to hospital is encouraged in order to save a life,” said a senior ministry official. “We are in talks with states, but nothing has happened so far.”
India witnesses around 5 lakh road accidents and 1.5 lakh deaths from them every year. As per several government assessments and independent studies, a large number of deaths occur because the victims did not get medical help within the golden hour.
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