Road safety panel gets 3 more months to finalise report

New Delhi, March 21 | Updated: Mar 22 2006, 05:30am hrs
The government has given an extension of six months to an expert committee to submit its proposals for setting up a separate commissionerate of safety.

The committee was to submit its report on January 31, 2006. The new deadline is July 31, 2006. Once the committees recommendations are received by the ministry of roads, highway and shipping, a decision would be taken on whether the commissionerate would come under the ambit of the government or be an autonomous body.

The basic idea behind such a proposal is to streamline the various administrative wings of the ministry.

The ministry had set up the committee of experts in December 2005 and had given it time till January 31, 2006 to submit its proposals.

However the committee, after a couple of meetings, requested the ministry to extend its tenure. The committee consists of experts from various NGOs, IIT, Delhi and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

Sources said that as the experts come from different areas the meeting schedules are not being properly coordinated. Moreover, as the committee also has to recommend the role and function of the proposed commissionerate, it asked for an extension.

The committee would also give its recommendations on various other technical issues like data and signages.

Ministry officials said that currently various aspects like safety rules and road designing, accidents, and the provisions of Motor Vehicle Act are handled by different wings of the ministry. Also statistics related to accidents unlike in the US and Europe, are not centralised in India. Centralised data proves helpful in doing research related to safety and traffic issues. Therefore, the proposed commissionerate would streamline all these activities under one umbrella, officials said.

The expert committee had been formed by the government keeping in mind the fact that safety is a crucial aspect. As per government data, 85,000 people die annually in road accidents, which is a loss of almost 3% of GDP, and sources said that the absence of a comprehensive policy on safety is felt acutely. Thus the committee was formed to facilitate the formation of a safety commissionerate.

If the commissionerate is kept under the governments ambit, an official of the rank of a deputy secretary would head it. If it is made an autonomous body, its head would be decided unanimously taking the committees recommendation into account, sources said.