Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has approved a draft notification to introduce Bharat-NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme) today, wherein cars will be accorded star ratings based on performance in crash tests. Gadkari says Bharat-NCAP will prove to be a critical instrument in making India's automobile industry 'Aatmanirbhar', and it'll help in making India the Number 1 automobile hub in the world.

The programme is aimed at encouraging manufacturers to participate voluntarily in the safety testing assessment programme and incorporate higher safety levels in new car models.

The minister emphasised the importance of having a star rating for Indian cars based on crash tests, terming it "extremely crucial" not only to ensure structural and passenger safety in cars, but to also increase their export worthiness. The minister has assured the testing protocol of Bharat-NCAP will be aligned with global crash test protocols factoring in the existing Indian regulations, allowing other emerging markets to get their vehicles tested at India’s own in-house testing facilities.

Gadkari on March 30, 2022, had apprised Parliament that the road transport and highways ministry is working on a proposal with stakeholders to formulate a plan to test and assess the star rating of a car under the B-NCAP.

The B-NCAP system will assess cars based on five parameters, including structural safety, the safety of adult occupants of the car, the safety of child occupants, assessment of the car for pedestrian-friendly design, and the provision of active and passive safety assist technologies. The proposed assessment will allocate a star rating from 1 to 5 stars.

The ministry has taken a series of initiatives to ensure passenger safety. On January 14, 2022, it proposed vehicles of category M1, manufactured after October 1, 2022, will be fitted with two side/side torso airbags, one each for the persons occupying front row outboard seating positions and two side-curtain/tube airbags, one each for the persons occupying outboard seating positions. M1 category vehicles are those used for the carriage of passengers, comprising not more than 8 seats, in addition to the driver's seat.

In February 2022, it further proposed that all front-facing seats in vehicles of the M1 category, manufactured on and after October 1, 2022, must be provided with a three-point seat belt. Other measures taken by the ministry are rules to certify the vehicle's roadworthiness, the fitness of the vehicle, anti-lock braking system, fitment of speed limiting devices, fire alarm and protection system in type III buses of category M3 and school buses, etc.

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