Govt attempts to lift flagging road safety standards in India
Shivani Chaturvedi | September 9, 2010
Now, all roads and highways in the country built in public-private partnership will be open to safety audits. Road safety in the country received a fillip when the government made such audits mandatory, concerned by the rising cases of traffic-accidents.
More than one lakh people die in road accidents annually, with most fatalities recorded in the age group of 25-44 years, the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) contends. Nishi Mittal, head of the traffic engineering and safety wing at CRRI, said that these fatalities cost the nation as much as three percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) - such losses in a highly productive section of the country's human resource have a severe bearing on its economy.
The World Bank, one of the major PPP funders, aids only those projects which have been cleared in safety audits, Mittal pointed out. Safety audits are comprehensive - testing projects for planning, design, vehicle-safety and road users' safety, she told Governance Now.
The CRRI has audited several road projects under the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). National and state highway authorities usually float tenders inviting audit firms to judge adherence of safety standards in plans for roads.
However, the country is facing a shortage of trained road auditors. CRRI has been training highway engineers for audits. But CRRI's main concern is that its recommendations regarding road safety are hardly implemented. “If the suggestions are not applied nothing will work,” Mittal said.
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