The Jabalpur-based Founder of Forum For Traffic Safety and Environmental Sanitation, Gyan Prakash had filed the petition in 2017 pleading the court to direct the road transport ministry for exercising traffic control on NHs as provided in the Control of National Highways (Land & Traffic) Act 2000 and provide central police, manpower, safety infrastructure and budgetary support for the highway administration.
The number of persons killed on NHs has been on the rise since 2015 except in 2019 when the reduction was marginal. While 51,204 persons were killed in road crashes in 2015 on the entire NH network, it had increased to 54,046 in 2018. Last year, the total number of persons killed on the NHs was 53,872.
Prakash, who had successfully fought the legal battle for safety features for pillion riders on two-wheelers, has submitted that the NHs are the property of the Central government as per law and hence state governments don’t have any jurisdiction on these stretches. “On National Highways, at present only after fatal accidents state police come for law and order problems and register crime under IPC. The state governments have never raised this issue because for state transport departments/ police, compounding the offence of overloading trucks is the biggest source of corruption and revenue,” he has alleged in his submission.
The petitioner, a retired governments servant who has served in different capacities and was also a visiting faculty at Indian Police Academy (Hyderabad), has submitted to the court that other modes for traffic movement such as railways, civil aviation and waterways have dedicated entities for traffic control and safety, but there is no such entity for NHs. “There should be a safety organisation for NHs and roads as it is in countries such as the United States,” Prakash told TOI.