National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will hold officials liable for any fatal or serious accidents that occur as a result of poor road engineering works.

NHAI in a circular said the authority has taken a serious view towards the dereliction of duty by the representative of NHAI/IE/AE involved in the process of issuance of the provisional certificate, thereby jeopardising the safety of users in utter disregard of the policy guidelines and provisions of the contract agreement.

"However, it has come to notice that provisional completion certificates are being issued keeping safety works such as road marking, road signages, end treatment of crash barriers in the punch list, which not only compromise the safety of users but also bring a bad name to NHAI upon the occurrence of accidents/ fatalities," the circular said.

The pending items are put under a category called a punch list.

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"It must be ensured that road safety works on the project highway are complete in all respects prior to issuing a provisional certificate. Regional officer/ project director/independent engineer will be held liable for any fatal/serious accidents that occur as a result of poor road engineering works," it said.

The State-owned agency has said the project highway can safely and reliably be placed in operation/service and minor work that is incomplete and are not likely to cause material inconvenience to the users or affect their safety is included in the punch list to be completed within 30 days.

Recently, Union minister Nitin Gadkari attributed some of the road accidents to faulty project reports and stressed that companies need proper training for preparing detailed project reports for the construction of highways and other roads.

Last month, former Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry was killed in a road accident after his car hit a divider in Maharashtra's Palghar district.

According to National Crime Records Bureau data, over 1.55 lakh lives were lost in road crashes across India in 2021—an average of 426 daily or 18 every single hour—which is the highest death figures recorded in any calendar year so far.