New Delhi: Hoping to put a stop to vehicles rolling down in the gorges and steep ravines, the transport minister Nitin Gadkari has said the Government planned to install crash barriers in the hilly terrains of Himachal Pradesh.
Urging the people to obey traffic rules, the Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping Mr Gadkari asked them to not drink and drive and exercise utmost care and caution on the roads. The minister took time out to express concern on alarming increase in road accidents, while speaking at the national seminar on ‘Liberating the Farmers from Debt Trap: Challenges of Policy Reforms in India’ here yesterday.
The hill state of Himachal Pradesh joins rank with Haryana and Punjab in making the northern region having some of the most dangerous roads in the country – accounting for nearly 8 per cent of victims of road accidents all over India.
Despite having a very small traffic volume compared to Haryana and Punjab, Himachal ranks shockingly high on several indices. In ‘severity’ of accident (deaths per 100 accidents) it is a high as 36.4 per cent, ranking close to Haryana with 43.7 per cent. Most of the accidents involve Light Motor Vehicles(LTVs) according to Road Accidents in India 2015 report released by the Ministry.
Frequency of bus accidents have suddenly increased to an unacceptably high level in the recent months. Most causes are man made: bad roads, overloading of buses or roads caving in leading to falling of vehicle into the gorge, leaving sometimes no survivor, On May 21 last, there were as many as three buses that fell into deep gorges in different parts of Himachal with more than 45 persons losing their lives. The bad news hasn’t stopped. Overloading of buses is somehow unpreventable because often there are not enough buses plying on that route. The hapless commuters risk their lives, everyday, travelling in overcrowded buses to reach their workplace or home.
The Minister said that the growing number of road accidents in the country is a matter of grave concern, and it is extremely sad that so many innocent lives are lost everyday due to these accidents.
Mr Gadkari reiterated his commitment to bring down the number of accidents and related fatalities and said that his Ministry is working in earnest towards this end. As many as 726 “black spots”(accident prone zones) have been identified and work is on to fix them. Rs 11,000 crore will be spent for this work, which will include raising crash barriers in Himachal Pradesh.
Mr Gadkari said a Group of Ministers(GoM) is working on recommendations to make Indian roads safer. This will pave the way for introducing a new Motor Vehicles Act in the Parliament soon. The Minister also informed that 10 per cent of the Central Road Fund (CRF) given to each state is to be used for identifying more “black spots” in the state and major highways. He called upon state governments to send proposals for the same. He also said that NGOs have also been roped in to create awareness on the subject.
The Minister said that the government alone cannot ensure safety on roads, and has appealed to people to do their bit by obeying traffic rules and helping create awareness about the subject.