U.S. to cooperate with India on road safety, says Nitin Gadkari

| Updated: Aug 23, 2017 11:20 IST

By Anshul Rana Washington, July 12 (ANI): The United States S will "cooperate fully" and provide India with technical assistance to develop road safety and implement intelligent traffic management systems, Union Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari told media persons here after his meeting with U.S. Secretary of Transport Anthony Foxx. "Today, we have discussed all our problems about road safety with the DoT officials. also related with rules and regulations, the software and technologies that they already have developed and innovation. They are ready to cooperate", he said. Describing road safety as one of the highest priorities of the Modi government, Gadkari said that the Road Safety Bill will be introduced during the upcoming monsoon session of parliament. "The Road Safety Bill is in the final stage. the bill will be presented in this parliament session, and, I am expecting that with the cooperation of all parties, we will succeed in passing the bill," he said. Expressing concern on the high rate of fatalities and road accidents in India, Gadkari pointed out that this is a direct result of congestion on the national highway system which accounts for only two percent of the country's road network, but accommodates 40 percent of the total traffic. "One sector where there is more expectation from us (Transport Ministry) is road safety. I am not satisfied. We need innovation, better access control. There is not much awareness and the government needs to give priority to it", he said. Addressing the delay in tabling the Road Safety Bill in parliament, Gadkari said getting all states and the center to agree is a big task and required the setting up of a committee headed by Rajasthan transport minister Yunus Khan. He said that committee had considered road safety systems in Canada, USA and Singapore and made its recommendations which were used as inputs to develop the final draft. To avoid fake and duplicitous licenses, the new bill will recommend national registration and high fines for traffic rule violations. It will also propose a point system similar to the one in the United States where drivers can lose their licenses if they commit more than a certain number of traffic violations. The United States will also provide technical assistance for the standardisation of Indian codes for road construction. Gadkari mentioned that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will share its manuals of rules and regulations and codification for road engineering with the Indian side. Other than road trasnport, American officials also offered cooperation to develop inland waterways network in India. The Indian government plans to include 111 rivers in this network that could stretch for over 14,500 kilometers. According to Gadkari, this will bring down logistics cost for manufacturers and create jobs, resulting in realizing the Prime Minister's dream of Make In India. Earlier in the day, Gadkari met Indian and American business leaders at the U.S.-India Business Council, where he highlighted the range of opportunities available for investors in the transport sector where his ministry has decided to double the national highway network. The transport ministry team made presentations to the business leaders highlighting investment opportunities worth USD 150 billion with innovative financing schemes. Gadkari is on a week-long visit to the United States and will travel to New York, St. Louis and San Francisco to meet other transport officials, investors. He will visit the Tesla headquarters, makers of electric cars. (ANI)