Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday termed the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 as a ‘revolution’ which would go a long way in improving the road safety scenario in the country and to great extent reduce loss of lives.

“The Motor Vehicle Amendment is a revolution in India because it falls under the ‘Concurrent list’ where both the Centre and State can enact laws but we don’t have majority in some States and in the upper house of Parliament,” Gadkari said, adding, “For a year, I tried to convince all the political parties and stakeholders to bring this amendment.”

He also added that the amended Act has increased penalties to act as a deterrent against traffic violations, brought stricter provisions in respect of offences like juvenile driving, drunken driving, driving without licence, dangerous driving and over-speeding besides streamlining third-party insurance compensation for hit and run cases.

He was addressing a webinar titled, ‘India-Australia: Opportunities for collaboration in Road Safety/ Infrastructure & MSMEs’ organised by the Western India Chapter Committee of Indo-Australian Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with Womennovator and supported by the Australian Government (DFAT & Austrade).

Noting that road engineering is one of the key factors of accidents, Gadkari said ‘black spots’ in highways is where repeated accidents take place so road improvement will come with improvement in black spots.

“We have already submitted projects to the World Bank and ADB and both have sanctioned ₹7,000 crore each so now we are improving black spots in State and national highways with the cooperation of several State governments,” he added.

Rural focus

Highlighting agriculture, rural and tribal sectors as the key priority areas for the government, Gadkari said the government is focussed on creating employment opportunities which require foreign investment. He also added that currently there are 22 green expressway projects and several other road projects which will drastically reduce travel time.

Gadkari, who also heads the Ministry of Shipping, said, the country’s port efficiency and capacity has doubled in the last few years.

Highlighting the government initiatives support to MSMEs Gadkari, who also heads the minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, said a funds of fund for ₹50,000 crore has been created to provide government equity to these small businessmen. He also invited Pension fund and Insurance investors to invest in Indian MSMEs and benefit from their growth.

“Your leader and my leader share many values and principles and the Australian government would do anything needed to foster its bilateral relationship with India,” said Michael McCormack, Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development.

Highlighting that Australian companies are among the most active investors in road infrastructure and associated safety technologies in India, Barry O'Farrell AO, Australian High Commissioner to India said Australia will work with India to reduce the terrible loss of lives caused by road accidents.

“A few areas demonstrate the achievement and future potential of the two-way exchange of expertise, technology and investment such as road infrastructure and road safety,” O'Farrell added.