Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways and MSME Shri Nitin Gadkari has underlined the need for generating awareness and education for the masses at large towards reducing or eliminating mortality on the roads. He said, ecology and sustainability are most important for human life. Launching the UNDP and MoRTH national awareness campaign on ‘Prevention of Human and Animal Mortality on Highways’ via video conference today, the Minister indicated that ethics, economy and ecology are the three most important pillars of our country.
Shri Gadkari informed that India witnesses nearly five lakh road accidents every year, in which about 1.5 lakh lives are lost. He said, he is endeavouring to bring down these figures by 20-25 per cent by the coming 31st March. Over five thousand black spots have been identified, and the process for their rectification including temporary and permanent measures is being carried out on urgent basis. SOPs regarding the procedure for rectification of black spots for taking up short-term and long-term permanent measures have already been issued. Till date, temporary measures on 1739 newly identified Black Spots and permanent measures on 840 newly identified Black Spots have already been taken.
The Minister informed that various Road safety measures have been highlighted to be focused upon on stretches of National Highways such as, the rectification of Black Spots, traffic calming measures, Crash Barriers, Repairing, rehabilitation and reconstruction of dilapidated and narrow bridges, Road Safety Audit, Reduction of fatalities on vulnerable roads, Highway Patrolling, and Safety during Construction.
Shri Gadkari also informed that his ministry is conscious about the need to protect animal life on the roads. He said, the Ministry has requested all agencies to follow the provisions of the manual titled “Eco friendly measures to mitigate impacts of linear infrastructure on wildlife” issued by Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun for making road or any linear infrastructure and take care of wildlife accordingly. He requested NGOs and social organisations to locate black spots for animals on the roads, and inform his ministry, so that necessary corrective action may be taken.
The Minister said, the ministry and its organisations are spending good amounts on creating infrastructure conducive to animal use. He cited the example of Nagpur-Jabalpur Highway, where a via-duct has been constructed for Rs 1300 crore to create right-of-way for the tigers. Similar exercises are being undertaken in forest area of MP, Maharashtra, Odisha, etc., he said. These include conducting studies for road engineering favourable to animal movement, constructing underpasses, elevated corridors, etc.
He said, MoRTH had always advocated construction of elevated roads, underpasses/overpasses as ecological wildlife corridors to avoid fragmentation of wild animals’ habitats and abided by the compensatory afforestation schemes in lieu of trees required to be felled. Considering no dilution in measures taken earlier, the new road projects to come up shall adopt green rating system for roads, which are already approved by the IRC Council for publication. Further, guidelines shall also be drafted for green roads specific to India’s bio geography.