THRISSUR: Even though there is no let-up in the road accidents in the state, the road safetyauthority formed to ensure road safety is practically remaining a toothless institution with acute shortage of manpower and resources.
The recent CAG report itself had given an account of the failure of the government to allocate financial resources to the authority, despite legal obligations. However, the debilities of the authority are much more severe, according to road-safety experts.
The sources in the government conceded that as of now the authority has no say in the enforcement of its own directives, which practically end up as mere recommendations. It just had four or five ministerial staff deputed from other departments and another five people who have been appointed on contract basis for providing technical support, the sources said.
The latest move of the transport department is to form joint enforcement wing of the police and motor vehicles department for road safety, but it remains to be seen whether it will be under the authority, which is an exclusive agency formed to improve the road safety.
Ironically, Keralais considered as the pioneer in the formation of separate infrastructure for road safety way back in 2007. Currently, a DGP-level officer is its CEO. When formed, it was supposed to have independent funding. As per rules, the authority should be receiving 50% of fines imposed on all traffic offences and the total amount collected by the government as road safety cess at the time of the registration of the vehicles.
As per the estimates, the authority should have totally received about Rs 893.97 crore from 2008-09 to 2019-20. However, the agency received only Rs 177.12 crore during this period, according to official documents accessed by TOI.
Even the Supreme Court committee on road safety had directed the state to ensure that the authority received the pending amount, and to constitute a form of fund which cannot be taken back by the government at the year-end as ‘unspent fund’.
“The committee notes that the state has still not established a non-lapsable road safety fund and directs that may be set up latest by July 15, 2019, rules be made and notified for utilisation of the allocated funds,” S D Banga, secretary of the SC committee, had said in a communication addressed to the state government on June 20, 2019. But the government is yet to enforce this directive.Source: TOI