Road safety cell in state of inertia

Road safety cell in state of inertia

This, despite SRSC’s reconstitution last year with the notification stating that it shall meet at least once in three months. The SRSC is headed by the transport minister and has 14 members including representatives from government departments, NGOs and vehicle associations. 

Although, officers in the transport department affirm that SRSC and district committees being statutory bodies have powers to ensure that stakeholder departments such as transport, law and order and health implement their reco- mendations and guidelines, many members beg to differ.

"No regular meetings are conducted. I had told the members of the Council to meet at least once in two months, but nothing has changed. Even if the committee comes to some decision to implement certain road safety guidelines, the SRSC cannot dictate terms to the implementing departments. It is a paper tiger," said G Govardhan, member of the SRSC.

Govardhan said one department should be given full responsibility to coordinate with other departments as road safety was a multi-departmental issue. During some meetings, the stakeholder departments have also sent junior officials, who could not contribute or make commitments, said an official who was a former member. Council member G R Shanmugappa said that no meetings were held for the last two years.

"The Council gets funds from Central government for road safety plans, but how have the funds been spent is still a mystery. The Council has conducted no road safety activities or chalked out any plans till now," he said.

D Vijay Vikram, Joint Director (enforcement-South), Transport Department, said the Council had the powers to ensure that its recommendations were seriously implemented by the stakeholder departments. In fact, he felt the road accidents had come down.

Functions of SRSC

The SRSC can take decisions like construction of flyovers, bridges and bypass roads, standardisation of traffic roundabout, road dividers, design and colour of guard rails, installation of automatic traffic signals and maintaining worthiness of roads. Apart from this, standards of fitness and safety precautions in motor vehicles and other aspects of traffic, transportation and road safety also come under the Council's purview.

Road safety initiative

The UN Road Safety collaboration unveiled its global plan for Decade of Action for Road Safety (DARS) 2011-2020 to help countries like India to reduce massive loss of human resources due to road accidents, two days ago.

Under this, some of the activities include increasing global funding for road safety, improve quality of road safety and data collection.

Interestingly, India was supposed to have launched its DARS 2011-202 guidelines and agenda on Friday. Now, it intends to launch later this month, as many of the stakeholder ministries have not submitted the guidelines and agendas till now, an official from the health ministry said. While road safety initiative is a noble idea, it may take a long way for India to consider it as a priority issue.

In Figures

* Number of road accident deaths in Karnataka in 2009 - 8,714
* Number of injured in 2009 - 61, 0697
* Increase in road accidents in India - 7.3 per cent