Nitin Gadkari says ‘sorry’ for rising road accidents

Saying “sorry” for high number of road accidents in the country, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday said the government plans to introduce the Road Safety Bill in the upcoming winter session of Parliament.

The Road, Transport and Highways Minister said he has failed in the mission regarding the Road Transport and Safety Bill, 2015, as he was helpless since Parliament was not functioning and some states were not on board. Once enacted, the legislation will make the system transparent curbing widespread malpractice at regional transport offices (RTOs), Gadkari said.

“Really I feel very bad. Every year this country faces five lakh accidents, 1.5 lakh deaths. I am very sorry. We want to change that. Regarding the accidents, it is really shameful and I admit today after trying my level best today I cannot succeed to clear this bill. I am vigorously trying. I am a failure. Lot of actions have taken place,” he said at an event here.

About three lakh persons are crippled annually in 5 lakh road accidents, while another 1.5 lakh lose their lives in India, which has one of the highest number of road accidents globally. Some states were opposed to the Bill, fearing that the legislation will encroach upon their administrative and financial powers were opposed to it.

“We have already discussed the issue with state governments and whatever objections (were there) from their side, we have already satisfied them. Now after that we are again going to Cabinet. I feel that in the next Parliament session we will try to introduce (it) in Parliament,” Gadkari said.

He said since the subject is concurrent, cooperation from states is required. “Without cooperation of state government we cannot go ahead in this subject,” he added. Noting that there are lot of lobbies, corruption at RTOs, he said, “we want to make system transparent, result oriented and time bound for giving national and state permits”.

Gadkari said that he is one of the victims of big accident and his secretary has also met with accident.

“It is very unfortunate, it needs some pressure because it is a subject in concurrent list. We need state government cooperation, there is a lot of big corruption in RTOs (Road Transport Offices), lobbies are against it but with public support we will try to clear it (the bill),” he noted.

The Minister was speaking at the ‘National Strategy Day on India’ organised by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and industry body CII. The Bill seeks to come down heavily on traffic offenders and proposes steep penalties of up to Rs 3 lakh along with a minimum seven-year imprisonment for death of a child in certain circumstances, besides huge fines for driving violations.

The Bill is also aimed at bringing down fatalities in road accidents by two lakh in the first five years.