The road transport ministry is planning to charge up to Rs 15 on every premium paid for insuring vehicles to fund a scheme to provide cashless hospital facility to victims of accidents on national highways.
"The ministry has suggested charging of Rs 15 as a premium for the vehicle insurance policy," said a source in the ministry.
There are around 10 million registered vehicles in the country and the total insurance premium collected in 2008-09 was Rs 30,601 crore (Rs 306.01 billion). The administrative heads of the districts would administer the fund, according to the proposal.
The government is working to provide cashless medical facility under the scheme as accident victims usually have to follow long procedures to get claims from insurance companies.
The government has constituted a committee to find ways to fund the scheme. The committee has members from four public sector insurance companies (National Insurance Companies, New India Assurance, Oriental Insurance and United India Insurance, the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority, the General Insurers (Public) Sector Association and Reliance General Insurance.
The committee will submit its report by mid-January.
According to a World Health Organization report of a survey on road safety in 178 countries, constituting 98 per cent of world's population, India leads in the number of deaths due to road accidents. India reported 105,000 traffic deaths in a year, compared with over 96,000 in China.
Also, in India, an estimated two million people have disabilities resulting from a road accident.
Over 1.2 million people die each year on world's roads and 20-50 million suffer non-fatal injuries. In most regions of the world, this is increasing.
Road traffic injuries are one of the top three causes of death of people between 5 years and 44 years.
Predictions are that by 2030, road traffic injuries will become the fifth leading cause of death worldwide.
Also, a lot of questions has been raised over the safety on the roads in India. Union roads and transport minister Kamal Nath had announced that his ministry aimed of reduce accidents on the roads by half in the next three years.
The road transport and highways ministry had been able to utilise only 10 per cent of the fund allocated for providing road safety during the current financial year till November-end.
But in an embarrassment to the ministry, of the Rs 79 crore (Rs 790 million) it got for safety in the current financial year, it had sued only Rs 7.6 crore (Rs 76 million) till November.
Also during the past two financial years, the ministry returned a part of its allocation, utilising Rs 54.9 crore (Rs 549 million) of Rs 73 crore (Rs 730 million) given in 2008-09 and Rs 42.9 crore (Rs 429 million) of the Rs 52 crore (Rs 520 million) allotted in 2007-08.
Primarily, safety of road users is the responsibility of the state governments, but the road transport ministry has schemes to make national highways safer.
The ministry is supposed to run awareness campaigns for road safety, provide refresher training to heavy motor vehicle drivers, and provide ambulances and cranes on the highways for post accident care. It also does education and awareness campaigns.