Target 50 % reduction in fatal accidents by year 2012
India's Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Mr. Kamal Nath on September 23, 2009 launched the National Campaign for "Reduction of Road Fatalities" a joint initiative of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) and International Roads Federation (IRF), a Washington and Geneva based worldwide organization for advocacy for development of safe roads with members from 90 countries across six continents, at jam packed centrally located Stein Auditorium of India Habitat Centre (IHC) in New Delhi.
As per the National Programme a target of reducing road accident deaths by 50 percent by the year 2012 has been set by the Ministry. India accounts for 10 percent of global road accident deaths with about 125,000 fatalities and at least half-a-million serious injuries each year. The country is losing 3% of its GDP to road crashes every year.
Minister Mr. Kamal Nath, while launching the national campaign stressed on the need of changing the outdated Motor Vehicle Act to address the specific concerns of road safety. He said that we should improve the engineering design of roads along with accelerated road building programme to the standards of safe and 'Forgiving Roads'. He complimented the partnership of NDTV in this National Campaign with their media role to reach out to the masses. Mr. Kamal Nath also said that this problem of road safety has not been addressed holistically till now, and therefore, the National Campaign is to aim for coordination at every step to realize the change in the mind set and attitude towards this problem.
Mr K. K. Kapila, Vice chairman, IRF and main host of the event demanded that the Government should seek active participation of Corporate houses in building infrastructures having direct bearing on road safety, and the government should exempt tax on these expenditures incurred by the corporate houses in a given year.
"As per the National Campaign, training of drivers will take place on driving simulators by establishing driver training schools in small and big towns uniformly. Driver licensing system will be made stricter and only drivers with required driving skills would be given license. Those already holding licenses should also be trained, wherever necessary", Mr. Kapila elaborated.
"The road users will be educated through traditional and modern media including showing of road safety films on the television, bringing out road safety messages in newspapers, road safety skits on radio network, printing road signs and safety messages on the inside front cover and inside back cover of school text books, for inculcating safety awareness and behaviour in our future road users", Mr. Kapila added.
"The campaign will also work towards painting the Mudguard, in luminous orange colour, for all motorized two-wheelers through respective manufacturing industries, and similarly the entire cycle frame and mudguard of bicycles. This single action will immediately help in reduction of the road fatalities", he added.
Earlier on the occasion, Professor P. K. Sikdar presented the need of the National Campaign with a grim picture of the country's road safety scenario with 363 road deaths per day. "54% of all road fatalities across the country are to the vulnerable road users, which is even 75-90% in cities. An attempt to address this problem with appropriate infrastructures will save a major share of the total yearly loss of Rs. 75,000 crores", he added. He also emphasized the need of a multi-prong approach with strong political leadership to tackle this man-made calamity with involvement of all stakeholders in an institutionalized system from conception to operation of the roads, with targeted road safety built in it.
Dr. Prannoy Roy felt delighted to be the media partner with the Ministry and IRF for such a gigantic problem of the country which has not been addressed by the media adequately. "Although 13 people are getting killed every hour, it is one or two at a time and place making it less sensational, and therefore, media has failed to spread the message about the biggest killer in India," He retorted. He felt proud with NDTV's partnership in this National Campaign.
Mr. Brahm Dutt, Secretary, MoRTH confessed that "The efforts made so far by the Ministry had very little impact as seen from the road safety scenario presented". Expressing happiness about the Launch of the National Campaign, Mr. Dutt hoped that IRF will steer the programme and garner the support from industries and NGOs; and he promised all necessary support and cooperation from the Ministry.
Mr. Nirmaljit Singh, Director General & Special Secretary, MoRTH expressed satisfaction that IRC has been able to prepare the guidelines for 4 and 6 laning of highways. According to him, the roads are being built to the international standards with appropriate provisions in the Contract. "Road safety audit is conducted for NHDP roads and corrective steps are taken using the recommendations", he explained. However, he suggested that implementation of the overloading rule of M.V. Act should be made feasible; and the awareness campaign with corresponding enforcement of traffic rules should be able to bring in safe road use behaviours.
The dignitaries present on the occasion of the Launch included Secretaries and other officials of Road and Road Transport from centre and various states, Representatives of PPP Concessionaires, Contractors, ADB, WB, etc. NGOs, Consultants, Insurance Companies, Automobile Manufacturers, Suppliers of road safety materials, FICCI, CII, ASSOCHM, PHDCCI and Automobile associations were also present at the highly attended launch ceremony.
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