In probably the first of its kind initiative in the country, the Punjab government has institutionalised road safety by designating a chief engineer at the state level and executive engineers in all the 22 districts. These officials will ensure road safety, which till now was without any accountability.
As many as 4,507 people lost their lives in different road accidents in Punjab in 2019, which comes to an average of over 12 accidental deaths per day. In 2018, there were 4,725 fatalities.
The state government took the decision under the “Mission Tandrust Punjab” to designate chief engineer of the Punjab Roads and Bridges Development Board Mukesh Kumar Goel as the nodal officer for the road safety and the convenor of state-level task force. He has been tasked to regularly monitor the roads across the state by identifying black spots and ensuring corrective action. Further, to facilitate coordination in all the 22 districts, the Punjab public works department (building and roads) has designated 22 executive engineers as executive engineers – road safety.
Kahan Singh Pannu, head of the Mission Tandrust Punjab, said, “Road safety in our state was nobody’s baby till now because of the involvement of many agencies. Now, we will be able to fix the accountability and save precious lives lost in accidents.”
He said as many as 391 black spots have been identified across the state and the state government has written to the central government and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to release money to rectify those. He hopes that all these black spots would be fixed over the next six months, as NHAI is ready to spend.
Most of the accidents in the state take place because of the road engineering faults. Out of the 391 black spots in Punjab, 256 (65%) fall on national highways, 66 (17%) on PWD roads, 42 (11%) in urban areas and 27 (7%) on rural roads. As many as 2,898 road accidents between 2016 and 2018 at these black spots caused 1,910 fatalities coupled with grave injuries to 1,401 and injuries to 488 people.
According to the plan, now these designated road safety executive engineers will also issue a no-objection certificate for the safe road projects to be undertaken by local bodies, mandi boards or the panchayati raj department.
Punjab government’s traffic adviser Navdeep Asija said, “It is one of the leading back-end reforms in the country, since no other state has taken such serious steps up to the district level to ensure road safety.”
He added that on May 1, a notification was issued under Section 135 of the Motor Vehicles Act, making it mandatory to investigate each road accident by a team of four members. These members will now include the executive engineer – road safety and an expert from the office of state traffic advisor.Source: Times of India