The Delhi government has not complied with the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH) directive to ensure that all commercial transport vehicles in the city-state are fitted with speed governors by 1 October, notwithstanding the alarming rise in the number of accidents due to over-speeding.
If the general secretary of Suraksha Foundation, an NGO committed to road safety issues, is to be believed, Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai was not even aware of the provision, even though the Centre communicated this to all states in writing way back in April.
“I am not joking, Gopal Rai actually said that he was not aware of it, when I talked to him on this issue,” Suraksha Foundation general secretary Rajesh Ravi told The Sunday Guardian. The calls made by this correspondent to the minister went unanswered.
A speed governor is a limiter which restricts the maximum speed of a vehicle to a stipulated cap.
The MORTH issued a notification on 15 April, through an amendment in the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, which made fitment of speed governors mandatory on all transport vehicles manufactured on or before 1 October 2015 by the manufacturers, either in the manufacturing stage or at the dealer stage, with a pre-speed of 80 kmph except for dumpers, tankers and school buses, for which the speed limit was set at 60 kmph. In the case of old vehicles, speed governors had to be fitted by the operators of those vehicles on or before 1 April 2016.
However, only Karnataka, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab and Maharashtra have taken proactive steps and started implementing the installation of these speed limiting devices.
The Centre issued this directive to states after MORTH’s accident statistics showed that in 2013, as many as 222,883 accidents were recorded in urban areas. Out of this, 52,603 road accidents resulted in fatalities and 199,024 road accidents resulted in severe injuries. Another report titled “Accident Deaths & Suicides in India, 2014” prepared by the National Crime Records Bureau, said that 36.8% of accidents were caused by over speeding. The situation is particularly grave in Delhi and the national highways surrounding it.
The emphasis on the installation of speed governors began after the Supreme Court said in its judgement of 20 November 1997 that states should issue orders for making speed control devices mandatory in all commercial vehicles. This was conveyed to the states by the MORTH in 2009 and again in 2012.
Ravi said that in the West, speed limiters have considerably reduced the spate of accidents, especially on highways. “In other countries, because of the fear of over-speeding challan, speed is not that big a problem. India is in a unique situation and we know for a fact that high speed is the cause for accidents,” he said.
He further pointed out that in the case of the states that have issued the speed-governor directive, there is a major problem as tampering with or removal of speed governor is being done after registration. Non fitment, fitment of non-approved speed governors and fake fitment are also a concern, he added. When asked about the lackadaisical attitude of the states including Delhi, he opined: “Though the Central government has written to the states, it is not a priority item for them.”