Around 2,00,000 people are killed yearly on Indian roads; the country has barely 15% of the world’s road facilities
The government of India and the World Bank have come together to launch a road-safety initiative to reduce the high and increasing number of fatalities and serious injuries on Indian roads. An average of 550 Indians are killed in road accidents each day and the government estimates that the situation may deteriorate with rapid motorisation and traffic growth unless safety measures are rapidly integrated into the road-development program.
The project, which will implement the International Road Assessment Program (iRAP), will assist the ministry of road transport and highways and state Public Works Departments (PWDs) in Assam, Gujarat and Karnataka to improve road safety on 3,000km of high-risk roads.
The World Health Organization estimates that about 200,000 people are killed yearly on Indian roads. This represents 15% of the world's road fatalities, despite the fact that India has only 1% of the world's motor vehicles. A large number of these fatalities are attributed to poor road design and lack of protective features for road users. With economic development and motorisation, this number will most likely increase in the coming years unless efficient measures are implemented. In fact, India has overtaken China to top the world in road fatalities and continues to pull steadily ahead. In comparison, road deaths in China, despite its own auto boom, have been falling for much of the past decade, to 73,500 in 2008.
There is a need for a programme that will assess the safety of these roads and propose measures to improve them. The government's Sundar Committee Report on Road Safety and Traffic Management (2007) made a comprehensive assessment of the road safety situation and provided detailed recommendations to make Indian roads safer for all. The iRAP project is part of the World Bank's ongoing efforts to help the government implement the Sundar Committee's key recommendations.
Speaking at the project launch in New Delhi, World Bank country director Roberto Zagha said, "No other country has ever had such a high number of vulnerable road users. Given the scale of this unique challenge, India cannot afford to emulate the slow path to safer roads taken by the high-income countries; rapid and innovative action is needed if a major public health crisis is to be averted."
The India project will inspect more than 3,000km of national and state highways sections in Assam, Gujarat and Karnataka. It will also use the latest digital imaging technology on the identified stretches to bring in cost-effective improvements that could help reduce road deaths and injuries on these roads. "The inspections will help identify affordable improvements that can dramatically reduce road death and injury. We know, for example, that the provision of flexible posts in the centre of the road can significantly reduce head-on crashes," said iRAP Asia Pacific regional director Greg Smith.
While the World Bank, through its multi-donor Global Road Safety Facility (GRSF) will finance and oversee the iRAP Project in India, the Australian Road Research Group and India Road Survey and Management will assist state PWDs in Assam, Karnataka and Gujarat in its implementation.
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Chandigarh: Prices of traditional basmati paddy crop fell by 20% this season compared to last year's prices, even as the country's total basmati rice export is projected at 3 million tonne (MT), reports PTI.
“The main reason behind fall in traditional basmati crop was major expansion of area under basmati cultivation in both Punjab and Haryana states this Kharif season,” All India Rice Exporters Association Vijay Setia told PTI today.
With overall area under basmati crop in the country increasing by 28%, area under basmati crop in Punjab and Haryana jumped to 7 lakh hectares each.
Last year, area under basmati in Punjab and Haryana was 6.5 lakh hectares and 3.92 lakh hectares, respectively.
Rates of traditional basmati paddy crop like HBC 19, Taroari are ruling at Rs 24-Rs27 per kg against prices of Rs 34-Rs35 per kg last year in the spot market, traders said.
The prices of popular basmati PUSA 1121, however, are up by 10% compared to last year because of good export demand.
PUSA 1121 was selling at Rs 20-Rs24 per kg against Rs 18-Rs20 per kg sold last year. Notably, current prices of PUSA 1121 Rs 35 per kg are much lower than prices two year ago.
Meanwhile, export orders for basmati have started pouring in, with the country already booking orders for half-a-million tonne of aromatic rice.
“Buyers from Iran, Saudi Arabia, Europe and US have started surveying the markets of India and Pakistan and enquiring about the rates of basmati crop,” said Kohinoor Foods Joint managing director Gurnam Arora.
“We are hoping that within next one month, all export orders for basmati crop will be finalised,” he said.
Exporters are projecting the country's basmati export at last year's level of 3 million tonnes. “We are expecting that basmati rice export will remain close to last year's level," said Mr Arora, while stating that India's basmati rice export had doubled within the last three years.
The country's 70% basmati rice is exported to Iran, Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries.