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Saturday, May 18, 2002

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Rs 1,200-cr road safety fund on the cards

Our Bureau


THE Kerala Government will shortly set up a Road Safety Fund with a corpus of Rs 1,200 crore which will be utilised to improve road safety aspects in the State.

This is being mooted as part of a major drive to prevent road accidents, the disturbing frequency of which has given rise to widespread concern in many quarters, according to the Transport Minister, Mr K.B. Ganesh Kumar.

Mr Ganesh Kumar stated this while inaugurating the seventh annual general body meeting of the Act Force, a voluntary initiative from multiple sponsors for reaching accident victims to hospitals.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA), Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) and the Traffic Police have joined various unions of taxi/auto drivers to run the initiative.

The decision on the corpus was one of the outcomes of a recent discussion the Minister had with the Chief Minister, Mr A.K. Antony, while reviewing the spurt in road accidents.

Mr Ganesh Kumar also said that his department proposes to introduce, from May 23, a computerised written test for assessing a candidate who has applied for issue of a driving licence.

This would be part of the more transparent and tougher measures being contemplated to further regulate the procedure for issuance of licences.

Accordingly, the written test for learner's licence would be carried out using six computer terminals at the Transport Commissioner's office.

The test would be conducted on a daily basis and would involve multiple choice question papers in English and Malayalam.

The results would be made instantly available on a computer printout and candidates who fail to answer 10 out of the 20 questions would be declared as failed, Mr Ganesh Kumar said.

The new system, which boasts a bank of over 250 questions, has been prepared along the lines of a popular Western model.

This is the first time that such a system is being introduced in the country. It would shortly be extended to cover Ernakulam and Kozhikode.

The Transport Ministry is also considering a proposal for issue of stickers denoting tax compliance for the duration of a particular year.

This is expected to do away with the hardship drivers undergo while being subjected to routine inspections on road by the Motor Vehicles Department.

The colour scheme of the stickers would be changed every year. Vehicle users could get these stickers from the regional transport offices on payment of a nominal fee after scrutiny of relevant papers such as tax, insurance and pollution control certificates.

The Minister said that he is in favour of imposing tougher measures for issuing licences.

Even persons who have had their licences cancelled for grave offences could easily secure a new licence from another part of the State. He demanded that the Central Motor Vehicles Act be amended to prevent issuance of heavy vehicle licences to persons less than 26.

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