Highway road safety 

There have been 356 accidents in Chenab valley alone since 2021 till ending November this year and 118 people lost lives as a consequence, the government informed Lok Sabha on December 14. It said the Road Safety Audit is carried out periodically. Total four of Black-Spots were identified by MoRTH on Nashri-Ramban-Banihal-Quazikund (length-74.50 km) section of NH-44, which passes through Pir Panjal and Chenab Valley, out of which two have been rectified by means of four-laning of stretch and construction of viaduct and rectification works of balance of two Black-Spots by means of tunnel and viaduct have been awarded.

As per the government design, construction and maintenance of National Highways (NHs) are carried out as per Indian Roads Congress (IRC) standards/guidelines, directions issued by Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH), relevant international standards and good industry practices. Road safety audit is conducted at various stages of project implementation like project preparation, construction and operation following IRC Codes/ guidelines in respect of Road Safety and Road Safety Audits which continuously evolve based on experience gained in the implementation of past guidelines and technological developments in these areas. Road side environment and traffic conditions also change over a period due to regional socioeconomic developments necessitating further corrective measures. During project preparation and further during road safety audit, deficiencies such as sharp turns, potholes, steep gradients, narrow lanes, single lanes, accident prone points and upgradation requirements such as service roads, over bridges and underpasses impacting safety of road users are identified and necessary corrective measures are taken.

Ministry and its executing agencies follow standard bidding documents such as Engineering Procurement Contract (EPC), Hybrid Annuity Mode Concession Agreement and BOT (Toll/Annuity) Concession Agreement. Such contract/concession agreements have provisions making safety audit at design stage, during construction, before opening to traffic and during operations obligatory on the part of contractors/concessionaires followed by necessary corrective measures which are followed in all NH projects. Standalone road safety works are also undertaken during operation stage of a NH section as per requirements. Apart from this, the government said, regular repair and maintenance activities are carried out to keep the NHs pothole free and in traffic worthy condition. While steps taken appear to be in right direction, there is a need for the transition to a professional road environment which requires the implementation of first-tier reforms that deal with the quality of road infrastructure, facilities for susceptible users and zero-tolerance enforcement of rules by a trained, professional and empowered machinery.

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