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India is Committed to Improving Safety, Efficiency and Sustainability in the Transport Sector, Says Shri Nitin Gadkari at the Global Conference on Traffic Safety in Brazil




India is Committed to Improving Safety, Efficiency and Sustainability in the Transport Sector, Says Shri Nitin Gadkari at the Global Conference on Traffic Safety in Brazil
Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping Shri Nitin Gadkari has said that the Government of India is committed to improving safety, efficiency and sustainability in the transport sector and believes that only a safe system can be sustainable in the long run. He was addressing the global conference on traffic safety in Brasilia. Shri Gadkari said India fully endorse the “Safe System Approach” being advocated by the United Nations. Here is the full text of the speech of the Minister:

“Road transport sector has played a major role in driving the rising Indian economy during the last few decades. With major efforts invested towards modernizing the country's road infrastructure spread over 5 million kms, the Indian economy has prospered, resulting in higher purchasing power and rising motorisation levels. However, with over 200 million vehicles on our roads and vehicle registration witnessing a rapid increase at the rate of 10 per cent annually, our country is faced with serious impacts on road safety levels.

Road safety does not happen on its own – it requires a lot of dedicated hard work. It takes investments of time, knowledge and resources. Governments have a primary role to play in this regard and visible political commitment will mobilize public support and resources for the cause. The Government of India is committed to improving safety, efficiency and sustainability in the transport sector and believes that only a safe system can be sustainable in the long run. We fully endorse the “Safe System Approach” being advocated by the United Nations. This approach is even more relevant in India, as the problem of safety is also a problem of social equity; here, pedestrians, cyclists and motorized two wheelers compete for space on the road with automobiles, and are most often at the receiving end.

Based on the five pillars of road safety, a variety of approaches are being used to tackle the causes, including improvement of institutional and statutory framework, infrastructure and vehicles, enforcement of traffic regulations and emergency care. It makes me sad to think that the number of persons killed in road accidents in India is the highest in the world; over 1.38 lakh people were killed in around 4.9 lakh road accidents reported in the year 2014.

On taking Charge as Minister, I have therefore, asked for the complete replacement of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, with a legislation, which comprehensively promotes safety on the road, especially, of the more vulnerable road users, while at the same time, it promotes the development of an efficient, seamless and integrated multi-mode public transport system. The Bill envisages creation of a National Road Safety and Traffic Management Authority as the lead agency for vehicle regulation and road safety. The proposed Bill also envisages the modernisation of road transport infrastructure in India. It aims to improve the quality of vehicles on the roads, especially with regard to safety and emissions. It seeks to usher in a regime, of computerized, corruption free and transparent transport authorities, both at the national and state levels, to remove obstacles and inconvenience from the path of road users, in obtaining driving licence, registration, payment of taxes, permits etc. and to promote good driving skills. Automated systems have proved to be highly effective in improving the efficiency of various systems across the globe. We, in India are ardently looking towards adoption of technology in our current licensing and fitness certification regime to ensure privilege of driving to be given only to safe hands by moving ahead of the existing manual methods.

The Government is also looking at improving urban planning and transport system for developing cities which are greener and safer. These cities will be looking at a more integrated urban environment which reduces travel needs. This is expected to reduce fossil energy requirements and also exposure to travel risks. The Government is looking at setting up 100 such smart cities in the first phase.

We realise that the Government alone cannot ensure the achievement of a safe transport system and cooperation of all stakeholders including the corporate sector and the citizens at large is required. We are working towards making road safety a social movement. Issues related to road safety have also been included in the school curriculum. Road safety has also been included as an activity that can be taken up under the corporate social responsibility. To encourage investment in activities for improving road safety, the Government has also announced concessions in income tax also.

In our concerted efforts to achieve the goals set under the UN Decade of Action of reducing road accidents by 50% by 2020, we are collaborating with the International Road Federation (IRF), WHO and World Bank who are assisting by way of strengthening the capabilities of various institutions, enhancing awareness, improving engineering designs for safer roads, improved trauma care and host of related activities.

The entire South Asian region has a unique issue to deal with – a large proportion of fatalities and injuries amongst two-wheeler riders. While India has 72% two wheelers, Vietnam has a maximum of 95% share of two wheelers in the motor vehicle population. The proportion of fatalities related to two wheelers range from 21% to 79%. In partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the UNECE and the Institute of Road Traffic Education, India will be hosting the first conference on the subject of two-wheeler safety for countries of the subcontinent as well as those from South East Asia on 18th and 19th Feb, 2016.

At the global level also, a coordinated and concerted effort is required. It is imperative that countries which have gained experience in road safety management, share their experience with the countries now faced with these issues now and help them eradicate the scourge of road crashes and related aftermath. I thank and compliment the Government of Brazil and the United Nations Organization for organizing this conference. Friends, let us rededicate ourselves today and renew our efforts to reduce mortality and morbidity in road crashes. I, therefore, earnestly appeal to you all to join hands in the effort to make theworld safer and to develop sustainable road transport systems across the developing and developed economies of the world.” 

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