The government will expand across India its cashless treatment plan for road accident victims, PM Narendra Modi said in his monthly radio address on Sunday during which he talked about several social issues but steered clear of the ongoing Parliament standoff.
Expressing concern over the growing number of road accidents in the country, Modi said the transport ministry’s scheme that provided cashless treatment for the first 50 hours to the victims would soon be extended to all national highways. At present, a pilot project is running on the 200-km NH stretch between Gurgaon and Jaipur.
“It is a matter of concern that every minute one road accident takes place in the country and that in every four minutes, one person dies in the mishap. One- third of the deaths are in the 15-25 age group,” he said during the 10th edition of Mann ki Baat programme.
Indian roads are among the deadliest in the world. According to the National Crime Records Bureau report, 1.41 lakh people died in road accidents in the country in 2014.
The government would soon bring a road transport and safety bill in Parliament.
In his 17-minute talk delivered in Hindi, Modi avoided any mention of the ongoing stalemate in Parliament over the Opposition’s demand for the resignations of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje for allegedly helping former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi get travel documents in the UK.
The Congress-led Opposition also wants Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to go as a multi-layered recruitment and admission scandal roils the state.
Typically, Modi doesn’t take up political issues in the radio programme.
The first week of the monsoon session has been a washout. With both sides hardening positions, the second week that begins Monday could also be turbulent.
Modi led the country in paying tributes to fallen soldiers on Vijay Diwas, marking 16 years of the Kargil war with Pakistan. “The day is reminiscent of bravery and sacrifice of our soldiers. Kargil yudhh mein humara ek ek jawan 100-100 dushmano par bhaari padha (one Indian jawan took on hundreds of enemies in the Kargil war),” he said.
The PM also talked about the hardships faced by the families of the martyrs, saying they were also fighting a battle.
Former soldiers are protesting in Delhi demanding implementation of one rank, one pension scheme. Social activist Anna Hazare, a former soldier, joined them on Sunday and threatened a stir from October 2 if the demand was not met.
The PM, who invited suggestions from people for his Independence Day speech, sought to allay farmers’ fears of a below-normal monsoon, saying good rains in the beginning of the season would help in kharif sowing. “I’m happy that pulses and oilseeds have recorded a growth of 50 and 33%, respectively, this year.”
India is battling a farm crisis as yields fall, land holdings shrink and debt-ridden farmers are being driven to suicide.
A Chhattisgarh village and a district in Madhya Pradesh came in for praise from Modi for furthering his government’s Swachh Bharat, or Clean India, campaign. In Madhya Pradesh’s Harda, “Brother Number 1” initiative has been launched to encourage men to build toilet for sisters as a Rakshabandhan gift. With every family building a toilet, Kesla village is free of open defecation.