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India’s roads to be safer, greener under new NHAI plans

NHAI Chairman Deepak Kumar.

NHAI Chairman Deepak Kumar.   | Photo Credit: PIB

Quick response ambulances to be stationed every 50 kms; CNG stations proposed

Driving down India’s national highways could be a much safer experience by the end of this year, with the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) set to roll out an ‘incident management system’. Under this, ambulances will be stationed every 50 kilometres to be able to respond to any mishap within 15 minutes of it being reported on a national accident helpline.

A greener drive is also likely for road users. Trucks running on CNG will be able to hit the highways without worrying about their fuel tank’s range. Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fuel stations will come up within wayside amenities on highways as part of a proposal now under discussion between the Ministries of Road Transport and Highways as well as Petroleum and Natural Gas.

A larger four-bedded ambulance with medical recovery systems that can save lives within the ‘golden hour’ will be placed every 100 km of highway lengths in seven States to begin with: Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

“Every year, around 1.5 lakh people die on Indian roads. We want to target saving lives in the golden hour (the first hour after an accident). The first phase that will be rolled out in December this year will target the national highways in seven states and later on, we will implement this on all highways stretches,” NHAI Chairman Deepak Kumar told The Hindu.

National highways accounted for 35% of total deaths on Indian roads and 29% of the total number of persons injured in road accidents in 2015, as per official statistics.

“Within 15 minutes of receiving a call, an ambulance should reach the spot,” Mr Kumar said.

The NHAI plans to invite bids for running the ambulance service on highways from manufacturers of such specialised vehicles, hospitals and emergency response service providers, among others, by the end of this month.

Green fuel

The NHAI has also mooted the inclusion of CNG fuel stations in the wayside amenities coming up along all highways. CNG-powered trucks or buses need a top-up after every 100 km, whereas CNG cars can travel up to 200 km before a refill is needed.

“We want CNG-run vehicles to travel outside the city limits as well and more stations would help us achieve that goal,” Mr. Kumar added.

“The move could enable cars and trucks with green energy to travel beyond city limits. We have requested our [Road, Transport and Highways] ministry to take this up further with the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas,” he said.

The NHAI Chairman met Indraprastha Gas Limited Managing Director E.S. Ranganathan on Thursday to discuss the prospects of setting up such stations within 100-200 km of each other. On the face of it, the idea looks feasible, the IGL MD is learnt to have indicated.

Better amenities

“The focus in the highways authority all this time has been building highways, we want to assign as much priority to spruce up highway operations,” the NHAI chief said. He added that the authority has proposed the creation of a new highways operations division to focus on aspects related to roadside amenities, highway safety and security, and smooth transition of vehicles at toll gates.

On Thursday, NHAI announced that all toll plazas will have electronic toll collection facility with at least one lane dedicated to vehicles with electronic tag device, known as FASTags, beginning September 1.

It also said all toll plaza planes will be RFID [Radio-frequency identification] tags-enabled by October 31. Till Friday, 15,000 people have already downloaded the mobile application for purchase and recharge of FASTags and 5,000 commuters have purchased FASTags online that will be delivered to them within 24-48 hours.

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Printable version | May 25, 2020 2:07:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/indias-roads-to-be-safer-greener-under-new-nhai-plans/article19526123.ece

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