Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari today announced announced formation of an Empowered Group of State Transport Ministers to advise on policy issues to make the country’s transport sector modern, efficient and transparent. The Empowered Group will be headed by Younus Khan, the PWD and Transport Minister of Rajasthan.
Gadkari made this announcement while addressing the 16th meeting of the National Road Safety Council and 37th meeting of the Transport Development Council in New Delhi today. Speaking on the occasion he said that 1200 spots have been identified for developing as Highways Villages. “These spots will have amenities like resting places, food plazas, refueling stations, shopping malls and helipads. This will help generate employment for neighbouring villages and also create a market for the produce from these villages,” he added.
Emphasizing on need to improve road safety in the country, Gadkari said that 720 black spots have been identified on National Highways across the country and Rs. 11,000 crore have been earmarked to take remedial steps in this regard. He said that presently about 5 lakh accidents take place in the country in which about 1.5 lakh people die every year. The target is to reduce accidents by 50 percent in next five years.
On the issue of increasing pollution Gadkari emphasized on promoting the use of environment friendly fuels such as electricity, Ethanol, bio-CNG and bio-diesel. He said that from 1st April, 2020 Euro-VI emission norms will be made mandatory and states should prepare for the transition. He further announced that e-tolling will be introduced at all toll plazas across the country. With this, vehicles will not be required to stop at the toll plazas for payment of toll. This will cut down the huge pile up of vehicles at these plazas, which causes loss of about 1.5 to 2 percent to the GDP and also a lot of pollution.
Speaking on the occasion Minister of State for Road Transport & Highways and Shipping P Radhakrishnan said that this joint meeting of the council is an opportunity for evolving policies in transport sector for efficient and modern transport system. Expressing concern over road accidents he said privilege to drive should not be taken for granted. He specifically called for curbing overloading of the vehicles.
Younus Khan said that the Empowered Group will work hard to make road safety mechanism efficient and effective. Best practices of each state will be replicated to make road transport of the country modern and safe, he added.