A bill to “save lives” by ushering in radical reforms in the motor vehicles law to slap heavy penalty on traffic violators, protecting good samaritans and making vehicle-makers responsible for design defects to cut road accidents, on Friday drew support from all sections of the Lok Sabha.
The basic aim of the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016 is “to save human lives”, Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said, adding that a whopping five lakh accidents took place every year claiming around 1.5 lakh lives across the country.
Moving the bill for consideration and passage, Gadkari said it would bring about much-needed reforms in the transport and road sectors through ‘maximum governance with minimum government’. It also addresses issues like third party insurance and regulation of taxi aggregators.
Cutting across party lines, members complimented Gadkari for taking the views of all stakeholders in drafting the “comprehensive” bill. However, many of them made suggestions on certain provisions as Congress member K C Venugopal said some of them were “very, very good”.
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“Even if you are a minister and you violate the traffic rules, a letter (citing a penalty) will come to your home,” Gadkari said.
He said around 30 per cent of total licenses across the country were bogus and, under provisions of the new law, a transparent online system for grant of license will be put in place under which everybody will have to undergo certain tests for getting it.
The bill, he said, seeks to make services like issuance of license totally transparent and online and provides for punitive action against officials in case of delay in issuing of the document to eligible applicants.
The proposed legislation also seeks to put in place an automated intelligent traffic management system under which anyone flouting traffic rules will face action.
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Under the new system, every one -- from a political leader to a film actor -- will have to go to the license issuing authorities under an uniform procedure and if license is not issued in 3 days, then the RTO will have to face action, he said, adding that a learner’s license can be availed online sitting at home.
The bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on August 9, 2016 and then referred to the Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture, headed by Mukul Roy.
The Motor Vehicle Act was a 30-year-old instrument which has “not kept pace with the change of dynamics of road transport & information technology,” he said, adding that it specifically targets traffic offenders with stringent penal provisions. The bill has identified priority areas for improving road safety.
Stricter penalties have been proposed for high risk offences such as drunken driving, dangerous driving, overloading and non-adherence to safety norms by drivers like not using seat belts or helmets.
Gadkari said the process for registration of vehicles will be made transparent and people will be able to access various transport-related documents online.
“If police stops you and asks for documents, you will be able to access them using your phone. It will be very convenient,” the Minister said.
Expressing serious concern over the burgeoning road fatalities, Gadkari said the government has identified 786 black spots across the country and will spend Rs 11,000 crore on them to curtail accidents.
Asking the MPs to resolve to ensure that no road accident takes place in their constituencies, Gadkari said there will be a committee headed by local MP in each district of the country to recommend measures for road safety.
The minister said the government will set up a National Road Safety board and the states have been told to incorporate chapters in the curriculum on road safety and added that changes were also being brought about for insurance sector.
“At present, there is no fear for traffic law and it is not a good sign. We have made the law studying traffic laws in the US and some other countries,” he said.
Talking about loopholes in the existing licensing system, he said “India is a country, where it is easiest in the world to get a license” and the new law will address these issues.
Participating in the debate, Congress member K C Venugopal called some of the provisions of the bill “very very good” and said all the roads in the country should be brought under the new law.
He also suggested incorporation of certain provisions in the bill like ensuring parking space for heavy vehicles and to bring doctors and nurses to treat accident victims under the ambit of good samaritan.