Union minister of road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari, in a written reply in the Lok Sabha today, said a total of 1.53 lakh fatalities were reported due to road accidents in the country during 2021. The year-wise data of the number of fatalities shows the total deaths rising to 1.53 lakh in 2021, up from 1.31 lakh in 2020, and 1.51 lakh in 2019.
Gadkari said to stop the rising number of accidents in the country, the government has taken a number of steps, including public awareness, engineering (both of roads and vehicles), enforcement and emergency care.
In terms of vehicle engineering, said Gadkari, the ministry has proposed that all front-facing seats in vehicles of the M1 category manufactured on and after April 1, 2023, be provided with three-point seat belts. This ministry has also notified norms related to safety measures taken for children below four years of age, riding or being carried on a motorcycle.
On making the six airbags mandatory in passenger cars, the minister said the proposal has been deferred to October 2023 after the stakeholders raised some issues regarding the implementation of the new rule. "Comments and suggestions were once again invited from all the stakeholders within the period of thirty days which are under consideration before the Ministry."
On newly announced National Highways (NHs) in the country, Gadkari said the total length of NHs in the country has increased from about 91,287 km in March 2014 to about 1,44,983 km at present, comprising 663 national highways.
The total amount spent on the NHs during the current fiscal year so far stands at ₹1,61,126 crore, while the amount stood at ₹2,01,809 crore in FY22, and ₹1,65,799 crore in FY21.
On the steps taken by the government to introduce and promote the use of electric vehicles (EVs), the minister said the Centre's Phase-II of the FAME India Scheme is being implemented for five years w.e.f. April 1, 2019, with a total budgetary support of ₹10,000 crore. It focuses on supporting the electrification of public and shared transportation.
Other measures that have been taken to promote green mobility in the country are conversion through retro-fitment to pure electric and hybrid electric vehicles; exemption to the battery-operated transport vehicles and transport vehicles running on ethanol and methanol fuels; and the incentivisation of electric vehicles and induction of electric vehicles in shared mobility.
The minister said under the scheme for Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles in India PhaseII (FAME India Phase II), 2,877 public EV charging stations have been sanctioned in 68 cities and 1,576 EV charging stations have been sanctioned across 9 expressways and 16 highways.
On ensuring common 'swapping standards' for EV batteries for full compatibility, Gadkari said the BIS has formed a committee to formulate the standards for form factor (i.e. size and dimensions) of the battery, communication protocols, connectors and interoperability.