Gadkari urged people to adhere to traffic rules and expressed hope that Parliament will soon pass the Road Transport and Safety Bill.
Concerned over alarmingly high number of road accidents in the country, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Monday said the government will spend Rs 11,000 crore (Rs 110 billion) over the next five years to improve the road infrastructure.
Stating that road accidents cause an annual loss of around Rs 60,000 crore (Rs 600 billion), or 3 per cent of the gross domestic product, to the country, the Road Transport and Highways Minister said the Centre has initiated a slew of steps aimed at minimising such mishaps.
Marking the start of the Road Safety Week with a 'Walkathon' from India Gate, Gadkari said the government has identified and started work on ten major accident black spots in Delhi.
He further said that India is among those countries that suffer a very high number of road accidents every year and even wars do not witness such a high number of casualties the nation is suffering due to this menace.
"In a year 500,000 accidents take place in the country, of which 150,000 people die and another 300,000 are crippled for life.
“So many people do not even die in wars.
“This is a serious concern," Gadkari said.
The minister said that India can learn in this regard from Sweden that witnessed just one accident last year.
"The government will spend Rs 11,000 crore (Rs 110 billion) in the next five years to improve the situation and work will soon start in correcting problems related to 10 identified black spots in Delhi," he added.
The 10 black spots identified include Sarai Kale Khan, Kashmere Gate chowk (Morigate), Nigam Bodh Ghat, Mukundpur Chowk, Dr Bhahbha Marg crossing, Punjabi Bagh Chowk, ISBT Kashmere Gate, Mahipalpur Flyover, Shani Mandir and Shahdara Flyover.
Gadkari said that a large number of people have died on these accident spots, of which the majority were in the age group of 25-33 years.
"The government is committed to make National Highways accident-proof and has taken a number of steps to improve the situation including launch of a website where people can inform about such spots and improving the road engineering, construction of flyover and underpasses etc," he said.
Terming it unfortunate that about 30 per cent of driving licenses were ‘bogus’ in the country, he said that the system for grant of licence would be made electronic.
On safety measures in vehicles, he said that ‘no car will be built without airbag and trucks cabin will require mandatory air-conditioned fittings".
Stating that the focus is also on developing light helmets as available in Korea, Gadkari urged people to adhere to traffic rules and expressed hope that Parliament will soon pass the Road Transport and Safety Bill which has a number of steps to minimise road accidents.
He said the government was aiming to reduce accidents by at least 50 per cent and roads are being equipped with close circuit television circuits in 12 cities to check the traffic violation.
At the Walkathon event, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that a life is lost every four minutes in road accidents and stressed on the need for a National Road Safety Authority.
The image is used for representational purpose only. Photograph B Mathur/Reuters