Govt not averse to regulator for transport sector

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New Delhi, Dec 1 (UNI) The government is open to the idea of having an independent regulator for the transport sector, on the pattern of the telecom and power sectors, to streamline services and fare structure and resolve inter-state disputes.

This is one of the major recommendations of the Sundar Committee on Road Safety in India, which came up for discussions at a day-long workshop on National Road Safety Policy and National Road Transport Policy here today.

Road Transport and Highways secretary Brahm Dutt who inaugurated the workshop, later told reporters that the Sundar Committee had also provided a draft legislation providing for a regulator and setting up of a National Road Safety Board and State Road Safety Boards to deal with the menace of spiralling road accidents.

''A bill on road safety should be ready before the Budget Session of Parliament,'' he said.

With regard to the regulator, Mr Datt said the Road Transport and Highways Ministry is yet to take a decision. ''We will take a decision after taking stock of views of all the stakeholders in the transport sector. Anyway, it will require a constitutional amendment,'' he pointed out.

He, however, appeared to be in favour of a regulator, saying it would be imperative for dealing with issues of inter-state disputes and fixing the standards of service and rate of fare by inviting bids.

Mr Datt said the workshop, attended by 12 state secretaries and 10 state commissioners and Director Generals of Police, besides Managing Directors of Road Transport Corporations, had a consensus of approach on certain issues, including need to prevent overloading of commercial vehicles and introduction of smart cards for licensing.

''These measures can be adopted straightaway since these will not require any amendment in laws,'' he said.

About the National Road Safety Board and similar boards at the state level, he said the participants suggested that one per cent of the oil cess for road development should be given to the boards.

If implemented, the proposed National Road safety Board would get Rs 85 crore and state boards Rs 35 crore annually.

Earlier, delivering the keynote address, Mr S Sundar, a distinguished fellow of The Energy Research Institute, (TERI) and Chairman of the Committee on Road Safety and Traffic Management Board, said road safety was increasingly becoming a major area of concern for the policy makers.

''Various policy, structural and societal changes are needed to make the roads safe in the country,'' he said.

Mr Sundar was of the opinion that in order to improve the current worrisome scenario, road safety must be treated as a public health issue and dealt with accordingly.

''We should evolve a structural preventive programme to deal with the alarming number of road accidents, just as we have a mechanism and organisational structure in place to control the diseases like malaria, AIDS and TB,'' he suggested.

UNI

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