HYDERABAD: At a time when the Union government is working on a new Road Safety and Transport Bill-2014, which aims to bring down road accidents substantially by using advanced technology, imposition of hefty penalties and jail terms, a mechanism developed by the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh government with the same intent, lies in complete bureaucratic neglect due to lack of political will.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA), a long-existing but lesser-known government body, got a major boost in 2010 when the then state government had decided to bring in a legislation to contain road accidents. The then chief minister K Rosaiah had also issued an order on reconstitution of the authority, which was deemed to have the power to coordinate with all the stakeholders to ensure road safety in the state. The order vested the authority with power to hold review meetings and interfere in case of malfunctioning by any stakeholder or body. But, the order has not seen the light of the day.
Earlier, RSA functioned from a single room in the Secretariat without even an office attendant. But post-bifurcation, things got worse as it has been deprived of even a room in the Secretariat. The AP Road Safety Authority, headed by an officer of the additional director-general of police rank and CID former chief SV Ramana Murthy awaits office space. While Murthy refused to comment on the existing state of affairs, the fate of RSA remains unclear — whether the Telangana government will form a new one or the existing will be divided betweent the two States.
Speaking about the ongoing discussions on the road safety bill, experts suggested that police certainly have a lead role to play in preventing road accidents as traffic management, education and enforcement bestow with the department. Experts suggested, “Usual financial objections raised by babus in allocation of funds should not apply to matters that involve road safety measures.” Ensuring road safety involves a humongous amount of planning, engineering, infrastructure, research, budget etc, apart from widely perceived factors like enforcement and regulation. They are of the view that enforcement in the state lacks requisite manpower, logistics and training. Besides, a national data of defaulters is absent. Former DGP AK Mohanty said, “A constructive role of coordination with all departments to analyse and create different functional sub-units was vested with the road safety authority.” Mohanty, ex-chairman of the authority, believes IT must be used. According to him, apart from just ‘saving a life’, the aspect of ‘giving a life’ should also be given its due importance. “An effective mechanism for organ donation and harvesting from accident victims can also bring smiles to many,” he added.