New Delhi : The year 2021 was significant for the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) as it not only continued with the good work done previously but also initiated certain measures which will have far reaching impact on the life of the citizens. The Ministry carried forward with its mission to build good quality of National Highways (NHs) during the year. In the last 7 years, length of NHs has gone up by more than 50% from 91,287 km (as on April 2014) to around 1,41,000 km now. All this happened despite the adverse situation due to Covid restrictions and heavy & long monsoon season.
The Union Cabinet approved “PM Gati Shakti – National Master Plan (NMP)” including institutional framework for rolling out, implementation, monitoring and support mechanism for providing multi-modal connectivity. The Plan was launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi at an event at Pragati Maidan in the national capital. The Ministry is working actively to realize the Prime Minister’s vision of building an integrated multi-modal national network of transportation and logistics as part of the “PM GatiShakti – National Master Plan”. Work on the Multi- Modal Logistics Parks (MMLPs) gained momentum in 2021, with tenders being invited for two MMLP projects – at Nagpur (Sindhi) and Chennai.
One of the major initiatives taken in 2021 was the announcement of the voluntary Vehicle Scrappage Policy, which will phase out unfit vehicles from the country. The policy, launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi at a function in Gandhinagar (Gujarat), will not only reduce pollution, caused by the old, unfit vehicles from the road but also lead to substantial employment generation. The policy intends to create scrapping infrastructure in the form of Automated Testing Stations and Registered Vehicle Scrapping Facilities (RVSFs) across the country. Work on it has already started. The first such facility at Noida was recently inaugurated by RTH Minister Shri Nitin Gadkari.
While work continued on the different NH projects and tunnels at high speed, including Delhi-Mumbai Expressway, Bangalore-Chennai Expressway and Zojila Tunnel, the foundation stone was laid for many projects by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, like the Delhi-Dehradun Expressway which will reduce the existing travel time between Dehradun and the National Capital thereafter, and the Zojila Tunnel.
As part of citizen-centric move, the Ministry started a new registration mark for vehicles under BH series, wherein those eligible for the scheme need not change the number plate of his vehicle while shifting to another state. This was done to ease the burden of re-registration, which is a cumbersome and time-consuming process. In a significant step towards seamless movement of vehicles on the National Highways, the Ministry made it mandatory to use FASTag at all the toll plazas.
A number of steps were taken in 2021 to improve the road safety scenario in the country, which includes announcement of reward scheme for Good Samaritan and constitution of Road Safety Board. Similarly, several steps were taken to encourage the use of eco-friendly vehicles and fuel in order to make the environment cleaner.
A Special Campaign was launched to dispose of pending files. Accordingly, monitoring of disposal of pending MP references as on 30 September, 2021 was done on daily basis through a dedicated portal and efforts were made for its quality disposal through coordination among different offices. Out of 909 references pending as on 30 September, 830 replies were given by the RTH Minister till 14 December and in a day, a maximum of 169 MP references were disposed off. Similarly, through daily monitoring and in collaboration with concerned offices, the Ministry achieved a major target to dispose of 125 State Govt. References, 1339 Public Grievances and 644 PG Appeals during the campaign.
MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS OF 2021
1. PM GATISHAKTI
The Union Cabinet approved “PM Gati Shakti – National Master Plan (NMP)” including institutional framework for rolling out, implementation, monitoring and support mechanism for providing multi-modal connectivity. The Plan was launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi at an event at Pragati Maidan in the national capital. The NMP aims at bringing in holistic planning and development across the country. All economic zones and infrastructure developments depicted in a single integrated platform will provide spatial visibility of physical linkages to promote comprehensive and integrated multi-modal national network of transportation and logistics with the aim to enhance ease of living, ease of doing business, minimize disruptions and expedite cost efficient completion of works. NMP will boost economic growth, attracting foreign investments and enhance the country’s global competitiveness there by enabling smooth transportation of goods, people and services and creating employment opportunities.
Union RTH Minister Shri Nitin Gadkari chaired a National Conference on “Investment Opportunities in Highways, Transport and Logistics” in Mumbai. The conference was organized with a view to emphasize on the importance of collaboration between various Central and State Government Ministries, its agencies and the private sector to provide an impetus to India’s logistics sector and in-line with the vision of the Prime Minister, through the “PM Gati Shakti – National Master Plan”. Ministry plans to showcase the investment opportunities in highways, transport and logistics focusing on three central themes – Bharatmala Pariyojana, Asset Monetization and Vehicle Scrappage Policy. Speaking at the occasion, Shri Gadkari urged investors to come forward and invest with an open mind in the infrastructure sector, which offers a diverse array of investment opportunities spanning multiple asset classes including Highways, Multimodal Logistics Parks, Wayside Amenities, Ropeways, Warehousing Zones and more. Secretary Shri Giridhar Aramane said that the aim of the Government under the able leadership of the Prime Minister was to make Indian logistics system comparable to best in the world by reducing the logistics cost of India to 8-10%. He further emphasised that the return from the infrastructure investment is better than other asset class.
2.VEHICLE SCRAPPAGE POLICY: CONVERTING WASTE TO WEALTH
The voluntary Vehicle Scrappage Policy was launched to create an eco-system for phasing out unfit and polluting vehicles in an environment-friendly and safe manner. It will also create a viable circular economy and bring value for all stakeholders while being environmentally responsible. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi addressed an investors’ summit on the issue in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. Speaking at the event, he said the policy will play a big role in the modernization of the vehicular population in the country, removing unfit vehicles from the roads in a scientific manner. He said the policy will not only bring in a fresh investment of more than Rs 10,000 crore but will also generate job opportunities. The Prime Minister pointed out that the new scrappage policy is an important link in the circular economy of Waste to Wealth.
In order to facilitate setting up of Automated Testing Stations (ATSs), the Ministry came out with Rules for recognition, regulation and control of ATSs. These Rules take into account vehicle safety & emission requirements and global best practices and have been incorporated according to the vehicles and systems in place in India. An automated testing station uses mechanical equipment to automate the various tests required to check fitness to a vehicle.
The Ministry also come out with detailed procedures for setting up of Registered Vehicle Scrapping Facility, as per Motor Vehicles (Registration and Functions of Vehicle Scrapping Facility) Rules. These Rules are applicable to all Automobile collection centres, Automotive Dismantling, Scrapping and Recycling Facilities and recyclers of all types of automotive waste products.
The Ministry issued a notification G.S.R 714(E) waiving registration fee for new vehicles, purchased against Certificate of Deposit issued by a Registered Vehicle Scrapping Facility(RVSF). There will be increase in fee for conducting fitness test and renewal of fitness certificate for motor vehicles, more than 15-years old. As per another notification, concession will be granted in motor vehicle tax for a vehicle registered against Certificate of Deposit, issued by a RVSF. The concession shall be up to 25% in case of non-transport (personal) vehicles & up to 15% in case of transport (commercial) vehicles. This will be effective from 1 April 2022.
Union RTH Minister Shri Nitin Gadkari inaugurated a Vehicle Scrapping and Recycling Facility at Noida. The Facility has been set up by Maruti Suzuki in collaboration with Toyota Tshusho Group. It is spread in an area of 11,000 square km with a capacity of handling 24,000 vehicles per year.
3. NATIONAL HIGHWAYS: CONSTRUCTION & ACHIEVEMENTS
Pace of construction increased from 12 km per day in 2014-15 to 37 km per day in 2020-21 (by more than 3 times). 4,410 km NHs constructed in 2014-15, while 13,327 km NHs constructed in 2020-21. In the last 7 years, length of NHs has gone up by more than 50% from 91,287 km (as on April 2014) to around 1,41,000 km now. In the current financial year 2021-22, the Ministry has so far built 5,407 km on NHs (as on 24 December).
- Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of Delhi-Dehradun Expressway (Economic Corridor) of 179 km to be built at a cost of Rs 8,500 crore and Haridwar Spur, connecting Haridwar with Delhi-Dehradun Expressway at a cost of Rs 2,100 crore.
- Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated the 16 km Varanasi Ring Road project and Varanasi – Ghazipur (72 km) highway project.
- Prime Minister laid the foundation stone for four laning of five sections of Shri Sant Gyaneshawar Maharaj Palkhi Marg (NH-965) and three sections of Shri Sant Tukaram Maharaj Palkhi Marg (NH-965G) at Pandharpur in Maharashtra through video conferencing in November. This will facilitate the movement of Lord Vitthal’s devotees coming from all over the country and outside beyond to Pandharpur. The Prime Minister also dedicated to the nation more than 223 Km of completed and upgraded road projects, constructed with an estimated cost of Rs 1180 crore at different National Highways for boosting connectivity to Pandharpur.
- Union Minister Shri Nitin Gadkari laid the foundation stone for 25 National Highway Projects of total length 257 Km with an investment of Rs 11,721 crore at Doda in Jammu & Kashmir. These projects will not only provide all weather connectivity within the valley and agricultural, industrial & socio-economic progress of the region but will also facilitate swift movement of defence forces. The projects will involve rehabilitation and upgradation of some sections, construction of viaduct and tunnel and rectification of black spots in the region.
- Shri Nitin Gadkari inaugurated four National highways projects worth Rs 3037 crore with total length of 146 km in Mirzapur (UP) and laid foundation stone for three NH projects in Jaunpur which will cover 86 km with a total cost of Rs 1,123 crore.
- An MoU was signed between the NHAI and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust at Nagpur to set up a multi-modal logistics park at Sindhi in Wardha district. Speaking on the occasion, Shri Gadkari said Nagpur, being in the heart of the country, has the full potential of becoming a logistics capital.
- Union Minister Shri Nitin Gadkari, in the presence of MoS General (Retd) Dr V.K. Singh, inaugurated NH projects with a total cost of Rs 8,364 crore in Meerut. He also laid foundation stone of NH projects worth Rs 755 crore in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh.
- In order to enhance transparency, uniformity and leverage latest technology, the National Highways Authority of India has made mandatory use of drones for monthly video recording of National Highway projects during all stages of development, construction, operation and maintenance. Contractors and Concessionaires shall carry out the drone video recording in presence of Team Leader of the Supervision Consultant.
- Safety audits have been mandated at all stages of road development to reduce accidents.
- Union Shri Nitin Gadkari has said that Emergency Landing Facilities are being developed at 19 other places to strengthen country’s security.
- INVIT LAUNCH: InvIT raised Rs 5,000 crore till date and planning for Rs 3,000 crore.
- ToT: Rs. 16,954 crore raised, Bid under process for Bundle 6,7 & 8 with 450 km length
- SPV formed for Delhi-Mumbai Expressway
- National Security Works to BRO, CHARDHAM
- 3 new zones set up – Road Safety, Tunnelling, Quality control
- In 2020-21, as many as 14 Wayside Amenities(WSAs) are into operation while 15 WSAs are under construction. In 2021-22, 142 WSAs are targeted for development. Out of these, the NHAI has awarded 39 WSAs and invited bids for the remaining 103 WSAs, which includes 3 in Jammu & Kashmir. As many as 23 WSA sites are on Delhi-Mumbai Expressway and 16 on Brownfield NHs. Five WSAs have been transferred to the Ministry of Tourism for their development.
- World records: Construction of 2.5 km long 4 lane Concrete pavement at Delhi-Vadodara expressway section within 24 hours.
- 26 km long single lane bitumen road of Solapur- Bijapur section of NH-52 built just in 21 hours.
- Intelligent Transport System on Eastern peripheral expressways (EPE) rolled out.
- Green Plantation Status (2021-22): 62.3 lakh sapling planted till November 2021; More than 2.02 crore sapling planted in between 2016-17 and 2020-21. As many as 12,000 plants transplanted at Dwarka-Expressway project.
- Elevated corridor built on Nagpur – Jabalpur highway for wildlife preservation.
- 4 meter high steel wall at NH through Khawasa-Seoni wild life sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh which would absorb light and sound of passing vehicles
- Delhi-Mumbai Expressway, Animal underpasses, 8 meter tall boundary walls and dedicated sound barriers to increase the safety of animals, 8 lane tunnel through in Mukundara Hills National Park.
- LIDAR technology for DPR preparation
- Machine Control Technology to be used in in construction of Lucknow-Kanpur Expressway.
- Network Survey Vehicle (NSV), Mobile Bridge Inspection Unit (MBIU) for Inventory survey
- Use of Malaysian and Singapore technology, use of steel fibers in deck slab for increase of span length.
4. CITIZEN-CENTRIC MOVES
- BHARAT SERIES: The Ministry has notified G.S.R 594 (E) dated 26.08.2021 regarding a new registration mark for new vehicles – Bharat series (BH-series). A vehicle with BH mark will not require a new registration mark when the owner shifts from one state to another. This facility is optional for Defence personnel, employees of Central & State Govt; Central & State PSUs; and private sector companies having their offices in 4 or more States/UTs. This IT-based solution for vehicle registration is part of a host of citizen-centric steps taken by the Ministry to facilitate mobility. The Ministry issued a notification G.S.R 240 (E) dated 31.03.2021 through which certain services regarding learning driving license and certificate of registration have been made completely online without going to the RTO, with the help of Aadhaar authentication, on voluntary basis.The Ministry also introduced nomination facility incorporated at the time of registration of the vehicles. This would help the motor vehicles to be registered / transferred in the name of the nominee, in case of death of the owner of the vehicle.
- International Driving Permit: Ministry has issued a notification G.S.R 15(E) dated 07.01.2021 to facilitate the issuance of International Driving Permit (IDP) for Indian citizens whose IDP has expired while they are abroad. There was no mechanism for its renewal while citizens were abroad and their IDP had expired. Now, with this amendment, Indian citizens can apply for renewal through the Indian Embassies / Missions abroad, from where these applications would move to the VAHAN portal in India, to be considered by the respective RTOs. IDP would be couriered to the citizen at his/her address abroad by the respective RTOs. In a bid to encourage use of eco-friendly vehicles, the Ministry has issued a notification to exempt Battery Operated Vehicles from the payment of fees for issue or renewal of Registration Certificate and assignment of the new registration mark.
- Mass emission standards for E20 fuel: The Ministry has notified GSR 156(E) dated 8th March 2021 for adoption of mass emission standards for E20 fuel. BIS has already notified fuel specifications of E20 fuel. The Ministry had already notified emission standards of E 85 and E 100 fuel. The compatibility of vehicle to the level of ethanol blend of E20 or E85 or E100 or ED95 shall be defined by the vehicle manufacturers and the same shall be displayed on the vehicle by putting a clearly visible sticker.
- Aadhaar for availing contactless services: The Government has notified S.O 1026(E), dated 03.03.2021, vide which certain services relating to driving licences and certificate of registration have been mandated to be completely online with the help of Aadhaar authentication on voluntary basis. This has been done to help citizens to avail these services in a hassle-free manner and to reduce the footfall in regional transport offices, which will increase the efficiency of officials of the regional transport offices.
- All India Tourist Vehicles (Authorisation or Permit) Rules, 2021: Travel and tourism industry in our country has increased manifold in the last ten-fifteen years. The growth has been contributed by both domestic and international tourists, and there is a trend of high expectation and consumer experience. Ministry of Road Transport & Highways is in the pursuit of providing seamless movement to tourist passenger vehicles , for which it has notified GSR 166(E) dated 10th March, 2021 regarding “All India Tourist Vehicles (Authorisation or Permit) Rules, 2021”.
- Licensing of drivers, Fitness and Registration of motor vehicles: Ministry has notified GSR 240(E) dated 31st March, 2021 to amend the Central Motor Vehicle Rules 1989 and S.O. 1433(E) dated 31st March, 2021 to implement sections 4-28, 76 & 77( part) of the Motor Vehicles ( amendment) Act 2019. The following important aspects have been covered:
- Use of Electronic forms and documents (Medical Certificate, Learners License, Surrender of Driver’s Licence (DL), Renewal of DL)
- Online learner’s Licence- The complete process of grant of Learner’s licence has been made online, from application to printing of learner’s licence.
- Grace period for renewal of DL may be availed one year prior to expiry till one year after expiry.
- National Register – National Register of DL and RC (Certificate of Registration) has come into effect, subsuming state registers of DL and RC of all the States. This will help in updating and accessing the data on real time basis anywhere in the country.
- Dealer point Registration – The mandatory requirement of furnishing the vehicle for inspection to the RTO has been done away with in case of fully built vehicles. This will ease the process of registration.
- Renewal of Certificate of Registration is possible 60 days in advance.
- Temporary registration for 06 months with extension of 30 days (Body building etc)- the time limit of one month has been extended to six months, which will facilitate owners who purchase the chassis for body building.
- Trade certificate is now possible in electronic form.
- Alteration, retro fitment to vehicles and adapted vehicles- The complete process of alteration and retro fitment has been brought under the legal framework leading to fixing of liability on both the owner and workshops or authorised agencies performing alteration or retro fitment. It will ensure safety of the vehicle and compliance with provisions of the Act.
- Insurance is possible in case of Altered vehicles
- Extension of waiver of requirement of Permit for Transport Category of Vehicles carrying Oxygen during the period of COVID-19 pandemic upto 30th Sept 2021: In view of certain issues brought to the notice of this Ministry that there are problems being faced by certain Transport Vehicles operators in the carriage, transportation and delivery of Oxygen Cylinders or Oxygen Tanks across the States or within a State, and that oxygen is an important item required for the treatment of COVID-19 patients , the Ministry had issued a notification, number SO 3204 (E) dated 21st September 2020 for exemption of Permit requirements as required under Section 66 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 till 31st March 2021. The same exemption was extended further till 30 Sept 2021 vide SO 1441 (E) dated 01 April 2021. This was issued to ensure smooth movement and supply of oxygen across the country.
- Conversion by modification of engines of In-use agriculture tractor, power tiller, construction equipment vehicle and combine harvester: The Ministry has notified GSR 336(E) dated 4th May 2021 to amend CMV Rules 1989 for facilitating Conversion by modification of engines of In-use agriculture tractor, power tiller, construction equipment vehicle and combine harvester for operation on CNG, Bio-CNG, LNG or Replacement of engine of In-use agriculture tractor, power tiller, construction equipment vehicle and combine harvester by New dedicated CNG, Bio-CNG, LNG Engine.
- Electric power trains of Hybrid Agricultural Tractors and Pure Electric Agricultural tractors: The Ministry vide GSR 342(E) dated 25th May 2021 has amended the Central Motor Vehicle Rules 1989 to insert a new rule 125J to include safety requirements in respect of electric power trains of Hybrid Agricultural Tractors and Pure Electric Agricultural Tractors. Electric Power Train Agricultural Tractors of category A6 (HybrFnagpurid) and A7 (Pure Electric), manufactured on and after 25th May, 2021, shall conform to the requirements of Automotive Industry Standard (AIS) 168:2021, as amended from time to time, till such time as corresponding Bureau of Indian Standard specifications are notified.
- Safety roadmap for ethanol and its blends: The Ministry vide GSR 343(E) dated 25th May 2021 has amended the Central Motor Vehicle Rules 1989 to insert a new rule 115K incorporating the requirements for motor vehicles of Categories L,M and N running on anhydrous ethanol or blends of ethanol with gasoline. The safety requirements of motor vehicles of Categories L, M and N, shall be in accordance with AIS 171:2021, as amended from time to time, till the corresponding Standard is notified under the Bureau of Indian Standard Act, 1986 ( of 2016).
- Accredited Driver Training Centre rules: Shortage of skilled drivers is one of the major issues in the Indian roadways sector. Moreover, a large number of road accidents occur due to lack of knowledge of road regulations. Section 8 of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act 2019 empowers the Central Government to make rules regarding accreditation of driver training centres. In this regard, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has published a notification on 7th June, 2021, wherein the requirements to be fulfilled by accredited driver training centres have been mandated. This will help in imparting proper training and knowledge to candidates who enroll at such centres.
- Common Service Centres (CSC) as “facilitation Centre”: ln order to provide better service to the citizen, the Central Government vide SO 2513(E) dated 23rd June, 2021 has recognised Common Service Centres (CSC) e-Governance Services India Limited to work as “Facilitation Centre”.
- Scheme for Compensation of Hit & Run Accident Victims: The Ministry vide GSR 526 (E) dated 2nd Aug 2021 has also notified a draft scheme, namely, Scheme for Compensation of Hit & Run Accident Victims to cater to enhanced compensation ( from Rs 12,500 to Rs 50,000 for grievous hurt and from Rs 25,000 to Rs 2,00,000 for death ) This scheme will supersede the earlier Solatium Scheme, 1989.
- PUC Certificates: The Ministry issued a notification for a common format of the Pollution Under Control Certificate to be issued across the country. The move is expected to bring about uniformity of PUC Certificates all over the country. The PUC database can be linked with the National Register. The owner’s mobile number has been made mandatory, on which an SMS alert will be sent for validation and fees.
- Airbag for the person occupying the front seat, other than the driver: The Ministry notified regarding mandatory provision of an airbag for the passenger seated on the front seat of a vehicle, next to the driver. This was mandated as an important safety feature, and is also based on suggestions of the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety. It has been mandated that the vehicles manufactured on and after the 1st Day of April, 2021, in the case of new models, and 31st day of August, 2021, in the case of existing models, shall be fitted with airbag for the person occupying the front seat, other than the driver, and the requirement for such airbag shall be as per AIS 145, as amended from time to time, till the corresponding Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) specifications are notified under the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 2016 (11 of 2016). However, due to the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic, the Government has decided to extend the timeline in respect of date of implementation for fitment of air bags on existing models upto 31st December 2021. A notification dated 26th August 2021 has been issued for this purpose.
- Shri Nitin Gadkari inaugurated the country’s first Private LNG Facility plant at Nagpur. Speaking on the occasion, the Minister said we have designed a policy that encourages development of imports substitute cost effective pollution free and indigenous ethanol, bio CNG, LNG and hydrogen fuels. He said the ministry is constantly working on different alternative fuels.
- The Ministry has mandated that the fully built buses (with a seating capacity of 22 passengers or above excluding driver) manufactured on and after 1st April 2019, by Original Equipment Manufacturers shall be in accordance with AIS:153, as amended from time to time, till the corresponding BIS specifications are notified under the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 2016 (11 of 2016).
- This Ministry has notified to amend rule 95 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1989, which proposes that the tyres categorised under classes C1, C2 and C3, as defined in AIS 142:2019, shall meet the requirements of rolling resistance, wet grip and rolling sound emissions, specified in Stage 2 of AIS 142:2019, as amended from time to time, till such time the corresponding BIS specifications are notified under the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986. A higher rating for rolling resistance indicates better fuel saving while higher wet grip ratings indicate solid braking capability of the tyre; a lower noise level connotes a more comfortable drive.
- Electric vehicle Charging Stations are to be provided by the developer as part of the Wayside Amenities (WSAs) being awarded by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). Ministry of Heavy Industries (MHI) had invited proposals from Government Organizations/Public Sector Undertakings (PSU) (State/Central)/ Government DISCOMs/ Oil Public Sector Undertakings and similar other Public/Private entities to build and operate Public Electric Vehicle charging infrastructure on Expressways and National Highways under FAME India Scheme Phase-II, wherein Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) consortium with Convergence Energy Services Ltd (subsidiary of EESL) has been awarded the work for setting up of EV charging stations along 16 NH/Expressways.
- Ministry has decided to look after the development of Ropeways and Alternate Mobility Solutions. The move is expected to give a boost to the sector, by setting up a regulatory regime, and facilitating research and new technology to come into this sector. An amendment to the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 has been notified, to enable this step. This means that the Ministry will have responsibility for development of ropeway and alternative mobility solutions technology, as well as construction, research, and policy in this area.
- To revolutionize the transport of goods and reduce the overall logistic costs, the Automotive Industry Standards Committee has amended its AIS-113 Standard to include the safety requirements of Road-Trains. The standards have been prepared after examining European benchmarks, keeping in mind Indian operating conditions. These standards shall pave the way for a breakthrough intervention for fast and efficient movement of goods along the long-distance freight corridors.
5. FASTag MADE MANDATORY
In a significant step towards seamless movement of vehicles on the National Highways, the Ministry decided that all lanes of the fee plazas on NHs would be declared as “FASTag lane” with effect from midnight of 15-16 February, 2021. The step has promoted fee payment through digital mode, reduce waiting time and fuel consumption, and provide for seamless passage through the fee plazas. More than 4.35 crore FASTags have been issued (as on 21 December, 2021). The average daily collection has reached Rs 106 crore (till November 2021) with average daily Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) transactions of 71.38 lakh. FASTag penetration across the country is at around 97 % and many toll plazas are having 99% penetration. As many as 728 National and 201 State Highway Fee Plazas have already been made FASTag enabled. As per estimates, FASTag will save around ₹20,000 crore per year on fuel, that will save precious foreign exchange and help the environment as well.
6.ACTION AGAINST NON-STANDARD VEHICLES
A notification was issued by the Ministry in March 2021 to ensure that vehicles are manufactured as per standards mandated by the Central Government. The idea was to protect citizens in case of manufacturing defects. Vehicle manufacturers will have to pay heavy fines for selling vehicles manufactured and sold in contravention of provisions of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, if they do not initiate voluntary recalI of such vehicles. This has become effective from 1 April 2021.
7.FOCUS ON NORTH EASTERN REGION
Vice President Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu laid the foundation stone of improvement and widening of Shillong-Dawki section of National Highway-40. The upgraded Highway will not only provide better connectivity in the region, but also form a key link for trade and people movement with neighbouring countries Bangladesh and Myanmar.
- Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of two major bridge projects across River Brahmaputra on 18 February. (i) The 2-lane major bridge over Brahmaputra River between Majuli (Kamalabari) and Jorhat (Nimati Ghat) (6.8 km) on NH-71 5K, costing Rs 25.47 crore, will provide easy and all-time access to the people living in Majuli town with rest of Assam. The bridge is expected to be completed by March 2025. (ii) The 4-lane Dhubri (Assam) – Phulbari (Meghalaya) Bridge to be constructed on River Brahamputra on NH-127B, costing Rs 4997 crore, will reduce travel distance from 205 km to only 19 km and travel time from 6 hours to 20 minutes. The bridge will provide another alternative link to Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and Barak valley region of Assam with the rest of the country. This project is expected to be completed by September, 2028.
- Similarly, Shri Nitin Gadkari inaugurated and laid foundation stone for 16 National Highway projects in Manipur with an investment of Rs 4,148 crore, covering a total length of 298 km. The projects will provide all-weather connectivity to Manipur with rest of the country and neighbouring countries. Inaugurating the projects in Imphal, Shri Gadkari said projects worth Rs 5000 crore have also been sanctioned for the state.
8. MAKING ROADS SAFER: HONOURING GOOD SAMARITAN
A reward scheme was announced in 2021 for Good Samaritan who has saved life of a victim of a fatal accident involving a motor vehicle by administering immediate assistance and rushing to Hospital within the Golden Hour to provide medical treatment. The amount of award would be Rs 5,000 per incident. An individual Good Samaritan can be awarded maximum 5 times in a year.
- Ministry notified constitution of National Road Safety Board, which shall be responsible for promoting road safety, innovation and adoption of new technology and for regulating traffic and motor vehicles. Board’s Head Office shall be in the National Capital Region and the Board may establish offices at other places in India. Board shall consist of a Chairman and up to 7 Members, to be appointed by the Central Government.
- Ministry has come out with draft rules G.S.R 758 (E) for the safety of children below 4 years riding or being carried on a motor cycle. A child below 4 years must wear crash helmet fitting head and safety harness shall be used to attach the child to the motorcyclist whose riding speed should not exceed 40 kmph.
- The Ministry also issued a notification amending the Central Motor Vehicle Rules 1989 for “Electronic Monitoring and Enforcement of Road Safety”, wherein electronic enforcement devices will be used for issuing challan. These shall have an approval certificate of the State Government. This certificate shall confirm that the device is accurate and it shall be renewed annually. State Govts shall ensure that such devices are placed at high-risk / high-density corridors on NHs, State Highways & at critical junctions, at least in major cities with more than 1 million population, including 132 cities mentioned in the notification.
9. COLLABORATION WITH UNIVERSITY OF NSW, AUSTRALIA
The Indian Academy of Highway Engineers (IAHE), under Ministry, signed an Agreement with University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia for setting up a Centre for Advanced Transportation Technology and Systems at IAHE campus, Noida. The Agreement, signed in a virtual ceremony, chaired by Shri Nitin Gadkari, is for a project for capacity building, technology transfer and creation of enabling environment for establishment of the Centre in IAHE. The UNSW will also deliver a course, certified by it, on smart transport systems and modelling.
10. PRESERVING HERITAGE
In a significant move, the Ministry amended the Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1989, formalising the registration process of vintage motor vehicles. Accordingly, all 50-plus, 2&4 wheelers, which have been maintained in their original form and have not undergone any substantial overhaul, can be registered as vintage motor vehicles. This is aimed at preserving and promoting the heritage of old vehicles In the country.