New Delhi: In a stern warning to officials over faulty project reports, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Monday cautioned that officials concerned could be booked in case of accidents happening due to flawed road designing.
The Road Transport and Highways Minister said he was "immensely pained" to see that as high as 1.5 lakh people are dying in road accidents here annually and faulty road designing is one of the major causes of accidents on several stretches.
"With folded hands I want to make a request to those who prepare DPRs (detailed project reports).
Please don't take wrong meaning of my words.
I am giving instruction that on those roads where frequent accidents happen, persons making DPRs should also be made accused...I will ensure this comes in the Act," Gadkari said at highways sector stakeholders' meet and launch of ministry's information technology initiatives.
The Centre has constituted a group of ministers (GoM), headed by Rajasthan Transport Minister Yunus Khan, for framing stricter traffic rules and penalties for various offences.
"It immensely pains me to see 1.5 lakh road accident deaths ... Not so many people die in any war or serious mishap...For every accident driver alone is not responsible.
For many accidents wrong road engineering and faulty design is responsible," Gadkari asserted.
Cautioning officials concerned to take utmost precautions while drafting DPRs, the Minister also said that there should be adequate provisions of underpasses and overbridges for crossing of roads which in the past were lacking from many crucial stretches to make the project more cost-effective.
"When you make DPR and somebody from Ministry or NHAI asks you to change the design, ask them to give so in writing.
Wherever there is needed, we have to make overbridge, underpasses otherwise if road speed increases without any provision of crossing, accidents will increase."
India accounts for as high as 5 lakh road accidents per annum in which 3 lakh people are crippled while another 1.5 lakh die and the total cost to the economy on this account is valued at 3 per cent of the GDP.
"I do not feel like watching TV as it is full of news of road accidents...This situation cannot be allowed to continue anymore.... Please bring innovative techniques... Irony is that people function with outdated mindset which needs to be changed," the Minister said.
He also added that despite innovative measures being brought in people are reluctant to use them and cited examples as to how Highways Ministry had made it mandatory blending of 7.8 per cent waste plastic in bitumen road which was not followed.
He said the Ministry would keep a close vigil as the method would minimise pollution and added that despite notification waste material like iron slag were not used in highways making.
Gadkari urged officials to expedite work and do away with mentality to resist any new system.
He said that there was resistance to adopt asset management system through which all the road assets were being mapped.
Stressing the need to inculcate positive attitude, Gadkari said his Ministry was taking help of IT tools to monitor the progress of highway projects and urged people to expose those delaying contracts.
He launched ePace, an IT initiative for for real time tracking of the projects and said more than 2,000 projects were directly monitored under it worth Rs 5 lakh crore.
Gadkari said another portal that has been developed as a comprehensive national portal was for infrastructure consultancy firms and key personnel in which more than 150 firms and 2000 key persons have got themselves registered.
Another initiative Inampro, he said, has resulted in buying of 5 lakh tonnes of cement from that portal and steel has also been included in it, he said.
Inampro is a platform for infrastructure and material providers and 265 lakh tonnes of cement has been committed here by 36 manufacturers.
The Minister said he was committed to auditing and accounting of projects in order to ensure transparency in the projects.
Also, he urged officials to hire young IIT and engineering graduates.