Union highways minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday said the previous UPA government did not build flyovers, overbridges and underpasses on many crucial roads, including the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway, to keep cost low. This, he said, led to many accidents.
The minister said faulty road engineering was one of the main causes of road accidents. He said the Centre would build four flyovers and two underbridges on the Delhi-Gurgaon stretch to make it safe.
A government report on road accidents in India, released by highways minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday, said the drivers’ fault accounted for 77 % of total road accidents in 2015.
Gadkari, who released the report, said this was not completely true. “It’s not only the drivers’ fault. Faulty road engineering also leads to many road accidents in India… in PPP (public private partnership) projects, big mistakes have been made,” he said.
In many instances, project developers have cut cost by compromising on safety standards and not building flyovers, overbridges and underpasses, he added.
Gadkari gave the example of the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway. “If you go to Gurgaon from Delhi, starting from Hero Honda Chowk, four flyovers have not been built. In three-four places, underpasses have not been built. When I asked the NHAI, they said the structures were not built to keep the project economically viable,” he told reporters.
The expressway was the first PPP project, awarded in 2002, in the highways sector.
Gadkari said, “The UPA government followed a policy of not building underpasses, etc., to reduce the cost of construction. But they did not realise their policy would result in people getting killed.”
Gadkari said safety measures would not be compromised anymore. “On the Hero Honda Chowk, we are building four flyovers and two underpasses…,” he said.
An estimated two lakh vehicles cross the Delhi-Gurgaon toll plaza to reach the National Capital.
Last year, 628 accidents were reported on the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway. Thirty persons were killed. According to a Hindustan Times report, in the last eight years, 500 people were killed on the expressway. Half of them were pedestrians and motorcyclists.
A study, done by DIG (traffic and highways) Sibash Kabiraj, identified 31 blackspots across the state. Of these, 25 were in Gurgaon alone, mostly on the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway stretch. Of the 129 fatal accidents reported at these blackspots, 125 were in Gurgaon.
Alarmed at the high number of fatalities, the road ministry has also proposed to set up a system where highway builders would be penalised if the stretch they have built is unsafe.
The ‘safety index’ would be incorporated in all highway contracts under the PPP to reduce fatalities on Indian roads.