Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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‘Need to educate policy makers about traffic issues’

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New Delhi: Traffic safety is not on the top agenda of policymakers and there is a need to educate them on this subject which is getting difficult day-by-day, Union Home Secretary R K Singh said on Wednesday.

Inaugurating a seminar on “strengthening traffic management systems and improving road safety” here, Singh said the burgeoning problem of traffic and resulting accidents and other hazards have “not really been getting the due attention”.

“I think the solution to this (traffic) problem should begin with policies..it has to begin with policy…first of all we have to educate our policy makers that this is the world you are entering, this is what you will get to see and this is what you have to prepare for…increasing migration increasing urbanisation and therefore you will have to invest more (on these subjects),” Singh said.

The policymakers are grappling with more fundamental problems like poverty, health care, delivery of food at affordable prices…these are the priorities which occupy the mind of our leaders, he said at the seminar, organised by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) along with traffic agencies in private domain.

The Home Secretary said steps should be taken to “discourage individual transport and push people towards public transport” and that such a transport should be convenient.

The three-day seminar which will debate a host of causes and solutions to meet the challenge posed by the rapidly increasing volume traffic and accidents, will present its recommendations to the Home Ministry after deliberations. BPRD is the nodal department under the Home Ministry to undertake research and development projects in subjects related to policing and law and order.

According to official data, road accidents claimed the maximum number of lives, 1.43 lakh people in 2011, as compared to insurgency (1,399 deaths) and natural calamities (23,690 deaths) during the same period.

The Home Secretary emphasised that all stakeholders involved in the subject of traffic management should come together to devise solutions to the menace of unruly traffic and unfortunate deaths that occur on roads.

“We got to sit down and brainstorm with Planning Commission here (central level) or with Planning and development departments there (in states)…this stems from the fact that we have a federal structure, this stems from the fact that we need to educate our policy makers,” Singh said.

The top bureaucrat also said the conditions of municipal corporations in the country is “pathetic”. “We have left the issues of traffic management to lowest body in our system, that is the municipality (which deal with traffic lights and city roads).

Condition of all our municipalities is pathetic… they don’t have sufficient sources of revenue. If they have, they don’t have any administrative infrastructure to be able to mobilise those, so most municipalities are bankrupt, they are in red…deeply in red,” he said.

Calling the menace of unruly traffic a “huge problem”, Singh said a number of people are now moving from rural areas to urban ones.

“Mobility has increased…more people have started from smaller towns to bigger towns. That increase in mobility has sent more people on roads, more people are using traffic systems.

This is going to increase if you see the pace of urbansiation…from rural to urban areas,” he said. This problem is going to increase and unless and until we build systems to take care of this (the problem will not be solved), he said.

“We are in a stage of development where we still have these problems (of poverty and food) which are essentially problems of the earlier age which are of concern to us and at the same time we are entering the modern era which means cars from cities…which means mobility.

Both these worlds…we are in a stage of development where both these worlds are together.

“We are in a stage of development and we have a distance to cover,” he noted. Singh rued that urban development is one of the “most neglected” subjects.

He also said that the Public-Private-Partnership is not going ahead at the pace that it should be but keeping focus on its movement, it can be achieved.

He also favoured having a traffic engineering wing in ministries and departments of road transport and highways, both at the central and state level. Speaking on the subject, Rohit Baluja, President of Institute of Road Traffic Education (partner with BPRD) said the killings on the road should be termed “terrorist activity” and steps should be undertaken to not only minimise but totally stop road and highway accidents.

BPRD chief Kuldeep Sharma said his department is creating a National Institute of Traffic Management in Rajasthan’s Alwar to initiate best practises in this domain. (PTI)

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