Minister of road transport, highways and shipping Nitin Gadkari on Monday announced the formation of an empowered group of state transport ministers to advise on policy issues to make the country's transport sector modern, efficient and transparent.
The empowered group will be headed by Yunus Khan, the PWD and transport minister of Rajasthan.
Gadkari made the announcement while addressing the 16th meeting of the National Road Safety Council and the 37th meeting of the Transport Development Council in New Delhi on Monday.
Speaking on the occasion he said that several state road transport corporations are incurring huge losses and the problem has to be addressed by developing an integrated approach for transport sector in the country. He said the centre has no direct role to play in road transport and it is for the states to ensure that revenues of transport undertakings increase.
Emphasising the need to improve road safety in the country, Gadkari said that 720 black spots have been identified on national highways across the country and Rs11,000 crore have been earmarked to take remedial steps in this regard. He said, at present, about 5 lakh accidents take place in the country in which about 1.5 lakh people die every year. The target is to reduce accidents by 50 per cent in next five years.
In order to tackle the problem of traffic jams and accidents, he also pointed to the need for a road traffic control system on the lines of air traffic control and river traffic control, which will use satellite based technology.
About strengthening the network of national highways, Gadkari said that the total length of national highways is planned to be increased to 2 lakh kms from the present 96,000 kms. He added that a number of access controlled expressways are also coming up in the country.
On the issue of increasing pollution, Gadkari emphasised the need for promoting the use of environment friendly fuels such as electricity, ethanol, bio-CNG and bio-diesel. He said that from 1 April 2020 Euro-VI emission norms will be made mandatory and states should prepare for the transition.
He further announced that e-tolling will be introduced at all toll plazas across the country. With this, vehicles will not be required to stop at the toll plazas for payment of toll. This will cut down the huge pile up of vehicles at these plazas, which causes loss of about 1.5 to 2 per cent to the GDP and also a lot of pollution.
Gadkari further said that 1,200 spots have been identified for developing as highways villages. These spots will have amenities like resting places, food plazas, refueling stations, shopping malls and helipads. This will help generate employment for neighbouring villages and also create a market for the produce from these villages.
The minister called upon the states to develop bus ports on the lines of airports. He said states may take these initiatives under PPP mode.