MUMBAI: Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Friday said the purpose behind hiking penalties for traffic offences was to save lives, and even Sonia Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal supported the move.
Defending the amended Motor Vehicles (MV) Act at India Today Conclave here, Gadkari recalled his own traumatic experience of a road accident.
“High penalties under the Act are not means for revenue generation. They are meant to save lives,” he said during an interactive session.
“Five lakh accidents take place (in the country) every year, in which about 1.5 lakh people die, nearly three lakh become disabled. 65 per cent of victims are in the age group
of 18 to 35 years,” he said.
When asked by the interlocutor about opposition to hiked fines by even BJP-ruled states such as Gujarat, he said, “Why don’t you also mention that (Congress president) Sonia
Gandhi and (Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader) Arvind Kejriwal have supported the Act.”
Recalling a personal experience, Gadkari said when he was leader of opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council, he and his family members were injured in a road
accident, and he was hospitalised for a year.
“I understand the sufferings (of accident victims),” the BJP leader said. “The penalties can be decided by the states,” he said, denying that there was any rift between the Centre and the BJP-ruled states over the issue.
State governments can levy fines in the range between the minimum and maximum limits prescribed in the act, he said. Asked about the economic slowdown, Gadkari said the
economy was facing some problems because of the global situation, demand-supply dynamic and business cycles.
“Ups and downs are not permanent. GDP will recover. We are doing better than USA and China. We must keep positive attitude. The economy will accelerate. The objective of five
trillion USD economy will be achieved,” the senior minister said.
Gadkari, who also holds the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises portfolio, said MSME’s contribution to the economy is 29 per cent.
“We have a plan to boost the MSME sector with a provision of Rs 10,000 crore. If MSMEs list with the National Stock Exchange, out of the total capital raised, 10 per cent
capital will be from the Government,” he said.
The real estate sector was going through a slump, but the infrastructure and road sector was doing well, Gadkari claimed.
On the Narendra Modi government’s 2016 decision to scrap nearly 86 per cent of the currency to fight black money, which some economists described as a body blow to the economy, Gadkari said demonetisation was a “reform” and not a problem. (agencies)