Washington, July 12: Acknowledging that road safety is a "big problem" in India, Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari has said that safety of roads is of highest priority for the government and the US has assured full co-operation in meeting the challenge by sharing its technical knowledge.
"Road safety is highest priority for our government," Gadkari told Indian journalists during a media round-table after his-day long meetings including that with US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and American business community.
"Today we discussed all our problems related to road safety with the (US Transportation) Secretary. The good thing is the Secretary promised me all types of co-operation with the rules, regulations, the software they have already developed, the system, the technology, the innovation. They are ready to co-operate with us in everything," Gadkari said.
Acknowledging that road safety is a "big problem" in India, Gadkari said every year more than 150,000 people die in five lakh road accidents.
"We are taking the co-operation of the US Government in particularly in road safety and intelligent traffic management system, which we are also going to implement in India," he said.
"I am very much disturbed (by the status of road safety)," he said. Gadkari said the US has also promised to give "all technical co-operation for standardisation of our Indian code" for road construction, bridges and flyovers.
I am very much disturbed by the status of road safety: Gadkari
"Their experience and their present rules and regulations, codification, all the manuals are there and they are ready to share all types of manuals, code and rules and regulations with us," he said.
"In India we are critically facing the problem of road accidents. We have 96,000 kms of road length as national highway and 40 per cent of national traffic on this two per cent of road. We are facing a lot of accidents on national highway," he said.
During the meeting the US also promised full co-operation in the development of inland waterways.
The Minister also spoke on new highways under construction in the country, financing mechanisms under PPP models, framing policies for logistics parks, modernisation of roads, building intelligent traffic systems for road safety and further innovation and technology to India's logistics sector.
Rohit Kumar Singh, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, highlighted specific investment opportunities in the highways sector whereas Alok Srivastava, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Shipping, shared details on the Sagarmala Program the Ministry's flagship port-led development initiative to bring down logistics cost and boost investment, exports, and jobs.
"India needs USD 1 trillion for developing new roads, ports, rail lines, and airports over the next few years and US companies can provide the necessary expertise as well as capital to enable the robust growth of this sector," he said.